Los Angeles water officials discovered that several open reservoirs had elevated levels of bromate. Bromate, a carcinogen, forms when sunlight combines with bromide and chlorine. Ah ha, an innovative solution! This June, the Ivanhoe Reservoir was covered with millions of 4 inch, black, high-density polyethylene vapor control balls.
But… are the balls recyclable? Made from what…crude oil? Reportedly, when an underground storage facility is completed in 2013 and the balls are no longer needed the “shade balls” will be shredded or otherwise recycled. Seems like more of the same shortsightedness–solving the immediate problem while creating a new future problem.
And speaking of carcinogens, what about the sun-exposed plastics floating around in the drinking water supply? This is an issue that is still without definitive answers.
Aside from that, it looks insanely, irresistably freaky. Were it not so functional it could pass for an ambitious and visionary public art undertaking. Maybe they should have billed it that way.
First photo, from the Flickr photostream of councildistrictfour. Second photo, from Opflow Online at http://www.awwa.org. See also http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/10/local/me-balls10 for a news article with stunning photos and video.