Use of ‘shade balls’ to cover water reservoirs could lead to bacterial nightmare: experts warn

Use of ‘shade balls’ to cover water reservoirs could lead to bacterial nightmare: experts warn

Los Angeles officials are trying to better cope with the persistent drought by covering water reservoirs with million “shade balls” designed to prevent evaporation. But experts have warned that the black balls could lead to a disaster.

Mayor Eric Garcetti defended the plan, saying the balls would block the evaporation of 300 million gallons of water from the city’s reservoir, saving taxpayers an estimated $250 million while the balls would cost the city just $34.5 million

But the projected savings failed to convince health experts, who have dubbed the black balls a potential disaster. Matt MacLeod, the founder of California-based biotech firm Modern Moon Farms, warned that the black color of the balls could produce a bacterial nightmare.

Condemning the plan, MacLeod said, “Black spheres resting in the hot sun will form a thermal blanket speeding evaporation as well as providing a huge amount of new surface area for the hot water to breed bacteria.”

Biologist Nathan Krekula said that the black balls would accelerate evaporation by absorbing heat from the sun and transferring it to the reservoir water. Agreeing with MacLeod, he also said that the balls would create a dark, warm, and moist environment for bacteria to breed.

Previously, the Los Angeles Department of Water used similar shade balls in the year of 2008, when very high levels of bromate were found in Ivanhoe reservoirs and Silver Lake.

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