Los Angeles appears to be turning its reservoirs into giant versions of those childhood ball pits by dumping 80-90 million plastic balls into them. But the move isn’t a sign that city leaders are yearning for their formative years, they actually have the public’s safety in mind. The 4-inch polyethylene balls help prevent carcinogen contamination and help control the area’s concerning drought – not to mention that they look super-entertaining when unleashed into the waters.

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Costing between $.33 and $.36 per ball, these plastic wonders are sometimes referred to as “shade balls.” Quite literally, they provide shade to the waters underneath by floating and reducing evaporation. It is estimated that this move alone could save the city almost 300 million gallons of water annually, or enough drinking water for 1,800 people per year. The layer of bobbing plastic also reduces algae growth and animals from contaminating the reservoir.

Related: California senators push for emergency drought relief measures

The polyethylene compound also can prevent a harmful chemical reaction, saving residents from being exposed to bromate. Bromate is a chemical which is created when bromide and chlorine are exposed to sunlight. The project has costed the city an estimated $34.5 million. LA is also geared up to open a $100 million ultraviolet water treatment facility soon to address the effects of its drought.

via boingboing, Gizmodo

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