'Shade balls' help protect LA reservoir from water loss
The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) has released 96 million 'shade balls' onto the surface of the 175-acre Los Angeles Reservoir to protect the water against rain, dust, chemicals and wildlife. With the drought in California continuing, the balls will also prevent the annual loss of 300 million gallons of water from evaporation.
LADWP is one of the first utilities to use this technology for water quality protection, which has brought the reservoir into compliance with new federal water quality mandates. The shade balls are expected to save $250M (£160M) when compared to other comparable tools considered to meet that goal. The alternatives included splitting the reservoir into two with a bisecting dam; and installing two floating covers that would have cost more than $300M.
At $0.36 each, the shade balls require no construction, parts, labour or maintenance aside from occasional rotation. A second, $100M ultraviolet treatment facility is due to break ground next, allowing LADWP to meet regulatory timelines, save more than $250M in capital improvement costs and further reduce water losses.
Visiting the reservoir earlier this week, LA mayor Eric Garcetti said: “In the midst of California’s historic drought, it takes bold ingenuity to maximise my goals for water conservation. This effort by LADWP is emblematic of the kind of the creative thinking we need to meet those challenges. Together, we’ve led the charge to cut our city’s water usage by 13%, and today we complete an infrastructure investment that saves our ratepayers millions and protects a vital source of drinking water for years to come."
Marcie Edwards, LADWP general manager, said: “Shade balls are a great example of how engineering meets common sense. Our water system has significantly changed since William Mulholland built it more than 100 years ago. As we make updates, we are mindful to be wise and practical with our investments. Shade balls are an affordable and effective way to comply with regulations, and helps us continue to deliver the best drinking water to our customers.”
The LA Reservoir, located in Sylmar, holds a total of 3.3 billion gallons of water, enough to supply the entire city of LA for up to three weeks.
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