If you asked a 4th grade class how they might solve California’s historic drought crisis, one kid might yell – “turn the water into a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit!” Well, Los Angeles did just that, and the video is pretty fun to watch. Give your inner child a high five and watch the video below. 😎
California is in the middle of its worst drought on record and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is doing its part to conserve water. This week, the city finished the final phase of its ‘shade ball’ initiative. LA dropped 96 million plastic black balls onto the surface of its 175 acre water reservoir, which is expected to save them $250 million and prevent the annual loss of over 300 million gallons of water. The shade balls are a cheaper alternative to LA’s other conservation ideas, which included splitting the basin in half or installing massive floating covers.
The LADWP said in a press release, “The small, black plastic balls protect water quality by preventing sunlight-triggered chemical reactions, deterring birds and other wildlife, and protecting water from rain and wind-blown dust.”
The reservoir, located in LADWP’s Van Norman Complex in Sylmar, holds 3.3 billion gallons of water – enough to supply the entire city of Los Angeles with water for three weeks.
The project cost a total of $34.5 million, but, at $0.36 each, the shade balls require no construction, parts, labor or maintenance aside from occasional rotation. They are designed to reduce evaporation, cool the water, and make the reservoir less susceptible to algae, bacterial growth, and chemical reactions.
The shade balls are made of black polyethylene and filled with water so they don’t blow away. According to the manufacturers, the balls should last up to 25 years.
Dr. Brian White, a now-retired LADWP biologist, was the first person to think of using shade balls for water quality. The idea came to him when he learned about the application of “bird balls” in ponds along airfield runways.
David Latimer planted the garden on Easter Sunday in 1960. He placed compost, water, and spiderwort (Tradescantia) sprouts into a 10-gallon jug. 12 years later, he gave the plants a quick ‘drink,’ before sealing it for good. With that one exception, the garden has remained totally sealed – all it needs is plenty of sunlight!
Latimer spent over 40 years doing nothing more than rotating the bottle occasionally in the sun, as the plants grew isolated in the bottle. The question is, how did the plants survive? Turns out, it created its own ecosystem, effectively using photosynthesis to recycle nutrients!
You too can create your own ecosystem. All you need is a large bottle, potting soil, pebbles or stones, and plants. Watch the video below to find out how to make your own terrarium 🙂 I apologize ahead of time for the cheesy music.