In 2015, the world watched as a video of 96 million “shade balls” getting dumped into the Los Angeles Reservoir went viral. The purpose of the balls: to improve water quality and save water.
But a new study raises an interesting question: Could saving water in the Los Angeles Reservoir come at the cost of consuming water in other parts of world?
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said the shade balls could keep contaminants out of the water and reduce the evaporation of the reservoir by 85 to 90 percent during a drought. The officials said the annual savings could amount to up to 300 million gallons of water, enough to supply drinking water to 8,100 people.
But a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Imperial College London and University of Twente in the Netherlands reported Monday that it may take more water to make the shade balls than what they save. To offset this loss, the shade balls must sit on the Los Angeles Reservoir between 1 to 2.5 years.