As part of its water conservation efforts amid California’s severe, years-long drought, Los Angeles has turned the city’s reservoir into a giant ball pit, filled with black plastic “shade balls” that will act to preserve the water that remains.
According to city officials, the reservoir holds 3.3 billion gallons of water, which provides water for the city for up to three weeks.
As of this week, the reservoir has been filled with 96 million plastic balls, each four inches in diameter. The final 20,000 balls were released by mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday, August 10.
“By reducing evaporation, these shade balls will conserve 300 million gallons of water each year,” Garcetti told ABC station KABC. “Instead of just evaporating into the sky, that’s 300 million gallons to fight this drought.”
The shade balls are expected to last roughly 10 years before the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will replace and recycle them. What’s more, at 36 cents a ball, the city came in well under budget from its original $300 million estimate for the cost of covering the reservoir.
“This is a blend of how engineering really meets common sense,” LADWP general manager Marcie Edwards told KABC.