Shade Balls For Water Conservation


The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has been releasing the black plastic shade balls to float on the surface of the Ivanhoe reservoir.  These balls would help in blocking sunlight, thereby preventing hazardous reactions with the chlorine and bromide in the water.


The availability of water to 4 million occupants has always been a concern for California in general and Los Angeles in particular. L.A. receives its 30% of water supply from underground and rest from the surface water. The city sources surface water from ten of its basins, and the Colorado River. In addition to this, the city has built two reservoirs. The Ivanhoe reservoir is capable of holding some 3 million square meters of water and serves to around 600,000 local customers. But this system of water importing faces an issue of evaporation during storage. Reports say that California loses around 63 trillion gallons of water in 2013 and 2014 due to evaporation.

The L.A. Department of water and power has found potentially dangerous levels of bromate in the water of the Ivanhoe reservoir in the year 2007. Bromate is a suspected carcinogen, and it can generate by the combination of bromide and ozone or due to chemical action between chlorine and exposure to sunlight. The government is planning to close down the Ivanhoe reservoir and would supplement the need with the massive underground facility, the Headworks Reservoir. L.A. normally has a warm and relatively dry climate. As the temperature and humidity rises, evaporation with the bromate issue serves as a bigger challenge to be handled. This problem calls for the innovative approach to water management.

Shade balls, hollow, polyethylene orbs are 4 inches in diameter that aimed to protect LA water supply by blocking sunlight during drought.  These balls inhibit the dangerous chemical reaction between bromide, and the chlorine used to disinfect drinking water. The black spheres are hermetically sealed and partly filled with potable water so that they won’t blow away by the strong wind. These balls are biodegradable and coated with a UV, blocking agent. They have a life expectancy of more than 25 years, and would be costing 36¢ each. These balls are spread entirely cover the surface of the reservoir, thereby forming an insulating layer between the elements and the water. The black color reflects UV light and breaks up the bromate formation process.

These balls are the brainchild of Sydney Chase, who sold her house to raise the funds needed to start the company, XavierC. The company is into the manufacturing of conservation balls. These balls can also be utilized at mining sites to cover waste and processing water ponds. The company’s found its name from Creative Consultant Xavier Castillo, a disabled Veteran Chase met by chance and subsequently hired. Chase has a soft corner for wounded warriors and offers them a steady employment. This application is inspired from the bird balls, generally used by airports to cover standing water located near runways. Bird balls aim at discouraging birds from congregating and avoids the bird hit cases.

Source: National Geographic