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Why Los Angeles Is Throwing Shade At The Drought

Associated Press
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Millions of shade balls were dropped into the Los Angeles Reservoir in an effort to save water.

It was a project that took more than two years, $34 million and more that 96 million 4-inch plastic balls.

When Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti filmed the final dumping of 20,000 'shade balls' into a Los Angeles Reservoir, the video went viral on social media and got a lot of national attention.

The shade balls originated as a way for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to keep up water quality in the area. By keeping the water shaded, algae is less likely to form.

"When algae mixes with our disinfectant chlorine, disinfection byproducts can form, which are carcinogens," said Richard Harasick, the director of water operations for the LADWP.

An added bonus of shading the water is the fact that it will prevent evaporation - an estimated 300 million gallons a year.

In the drought-stricken West, that number is significant. But not everyone was impressed by the project.

An article in Fox News said that the black-colored balls will actually heat the water, thus making it easier for bacteria to grow. Harasick said there is no truth to that, in fact, the water temperature has been cooler since the balls have been added.

Harasick told KNPR's State of Nevada that he has been asked whether the idea would work in other places, like Nevada, to save water.

"In of themselves, for water conservation, it's probably not going to pencil out, but again, we did ours for water quality purpose and for virtually no cost we got a water conservation project as well," he explained.

Richard Harasick, director of water operations, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.