Why Are 96,000,000 Black Balls on This Reservoir?

  • Published: 10 May 2019
  • I took a boat through 96 million black plastic balls on the Los Angeles reservoir to find out why they're there. The first time I heard about shade balls the claim was they reduce evaporation. But it turns out this isn't the reason they were introduced.

    Huge thanks to LADWP for arranging this special tour for me. Next time let's put the GoPro on the submersible!

    The balls are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) which is less dense than water so they float on the surface of the reservoir even if they break apart. They are 10cm (4 inches) in diameter and contain about 210ml of water. So the main reason they are on the reservoir is to block sunlight from entering the water and triggering a chemical reaction that turns harmless bromide into carcinogenic bromate. This effect occurs with prolonged exposure to bromate so regulators insist that levels be kept below 10 microgram per liter on average over a 12 month period.

    Special thanks to Patreon supporters:
    Donal Botkin, Michael Krugman, Ron Neal, Stan Presolski, Terrance Shepherd, Penward Rhyme and everyone who provided feedback on an early draft of this video.

    Thanks to:
    Las Virgenes Reservoir for footage of initial shade ball dump
    Euro-Matic for bird into jet-engine footage

    Researched and Produced by Casey Rentz

    Animations by Maria Raykova

    Music from http://epidemicsound.com "Colorful Animation 4" "Seaweed"

    And from Kevin MacLeod "Marty Gots a Plan"

    This is an educational video about the science of water quality.

Comments • 60 623

  • Евгений Филипенко

    And on each ball they should make a "Metallica" print

    • Pipiris Nice
      Pipiris Nice  2 hours back

      thumbs up because i've been driving to and from work for the past 6 months wondering why the reservoir surface looked so strange. i kept meaning to pit stop but its beer:30 after work. thanks for answering my question

      • stone man
        stone man  6 hours back

        Is there life under that water don't they need sun light??

        • Junder R
          Junder R  11 hours back

          What kind of garbage science is this. Too much sunlight in my water is bad for me? Yeah, not buying it. It looks stupid because it is.

          • Tatty
            Tatty  12 hours back

            32 million dollars for a bunch of black balls?

            • hukapuk62
              hukapuk62  13 hours back

              Driving boat in the water that u drink

              • PixelProject
                PixelProject  15 hours back

                Black Balls? you talkin about 48,000 black men? or what? i am so confused. nothing makes sense anymore on youtube

                • Conrad Kelii Chun Fook
                  Conrad Kelii Chun Fook  17 hours back

                  Black balls! Thats racist and inhumane!! Omfg ! The horrors!

                  • Hori Manuirirangi
                    Hori Manuirirangi  17 hours back

                    5:51 watch the bird near the bottom of the wing. And watch the scattered white blur behind the wing.

                    • Kalvin Devonshire
                      Kalvin Devonshire  19 hours back

                      black dont crack boom!

                      • Smith and Wilson
                        Smith and Wilson  22 hours back

                        Water is living. Water is life. This is not the answer. .why now? Because a man in the black suit says it the scientifically right thing to do.

                        • Smith and Wilson
                          Smith and Wilson  22 hours back

                          I don't trust this idea for a damn second! What about the plastic chemicals heating up from the balls and releasing chemicals into the water?! Humans have survived thousands and thousands and thousands of years without "shade balls"... I understand this is a reservoir, but geez. Just like vaping, has long term effects of plastic balls under the sun in the heat been studied and tested? And who manufactured the balls?! Do we know their agenda? "Theoretically you can even bite and chew up these balls and it's not harmful" says the guy in the video.

                        • Talika Lawrence
                          Talika Lawrence  23 hours back

                          That poor bird. Omg

                          • Patrick Maciel Campos
                            Patrick Maciel Campos  1 days back


                            • J0se Villa
                              J0se Villa  1 days back


                              • JoshArch 22
                                JoshArch 22  1 days back

                                5:52 That bird...just died...

                                Thanos snapped on the bird

                                • Jean Dznhos
                                  Jean Dznhos  1 days back

                                  Good pc,i can't see the lag

                                  • Patrick Bateman
                                    Patrick Bateman  1 days back

                                    Is that an outboard motor? Wouldnt it be chopping black balls all up in its wake like a mofo???

                                    • Marion Hemker
                                      Marion Hemker  1 days back

                                      Man kann es gut verstehen

                                      • tlotmb77 bmail
                                        tlotmb77 bmail  1 days back

                                        Uh ??? all the neutered leftie males out there in California ???? Boys get yo balls back ...

                                        • mja music switzerland
                                          mja music switzerland  1 days back


                                          • MIL_OK
                                            MIL_OK  1 days back

                                            So many questions and and so few answers

                                            • Answering clickbait titles

                                              To avoid evaporation.

                                              • Racy Rabbit
                                                Racy Rabbit  1 days back

                                                There must be a lot of black men missing a pair...Rapes must be away down

                                                • VitaCare Natural Health Clinic

                                                  A plastic bag commercial?

                                                  • NightCoreStudio
                                                    NightCoreStudio  2 days back

                                                    what about the bacteria that grows in dark places?

                                                  • Eholdings Georgia
                                                    Eholdings Georgia  2 days back

                                                    I like it

                                                    • Nite Knight
                                                      Nite Knight  2 days back

                                                      What a great idea

                                                      • joker
                                                        joker  2 days back

                                                        why are the balls made in spherical shape .why not in rectangular shape or other geometric shape

                                                        • J Wright
                                                          J Wright  1 days back

                                                          balls link together tighter in crystalline structures

                                                      • Lithgow11
                                                        Lithgow11  2 days back

                                                        Why don't you come down to Australia and teach Sydney Water about shade balls they will be very very interesting mean interested.

                                                        • Grim Reaper
                                                          Grim Reaper  2 days back

                                                          What a waste of tax money...

                                                          • Immanuel Guisala
                                                            Immanuel Guisala  2 days back

                                                            Are those plastic?

                                                            • Moce
                                                              Moce  2 days back

                                                              "It's very rare to see 96 million of anything"
                                                              Pewdiepie's subcount: ...
                                                              YouTube music's subcount: ...
                                                              YouTube gaming's subcount:...
                                                              YouTube movie's subcount: ...
                                                              T Series's subcount: ...

                                                              • eccabron
                                                                eccabron  2 days back

                                                                Represents every black person unemployed ...on welfare or comitting a crime

                                                                • Keyonna Wilkerson
                                                                  Keyonna Wilkerson  2 days back

                                                                  am i the only one that noticed the the bird and the plane, im scared.

                                                                  • K T
                                                                    K T  2 days back

                                                                    How long does it take for them to breakdown?

                                                                    • George Navach
                                                                      George Navach  2 days back

                                                                      Its very rare to see 96m of anything. despacito am i a joke to you?

                                                                      • shyam krishna
                                                                        shyam krishna  2 days back

                                                                        What happens when it rains ?

                                                                        • Jaklebery o.o
                                                                          Jaklebery o.o  2 days back

                                                                          5:52 R.I.P Birb

                                                                          • BeCreative Gaming
                                                                            BeCreative Gaming  2 days back

                                                                            So my drinking water had a motorboat on it

                                                                            • jaclou17
                                                                              jaclou17  3 days back

                                                                              wow. complete disregard for human health. the introduction of plastic into their drinking water , the disregard for the loss of wildlife and the introduction of more plastic on the planet. Could they not treat the water between the reservoir and the houses? what a waste

                                                                              • JAGMATI DEVI
                                                                                JAGMATI DEVI  3 days back

                                                                                Who came here from watching it at channel at biologybyte

                                                                                • Shad0X
                                                                                  Shad0X  3 days back

                                                                                  I thought they cut off black mans balls snd put them in there

                                                                                  Fake adversising!

                                                                                  • Cyber Stalker
                                                                                    Cyber Stalker  3 days back

                                                                                    First thing in my mind:- what happen if i Kill someone and throw him/her into this 🙂

                                                                                    • Donna White
                                                                                      Donna White  3 days back

                                                                                      I mean carcinogenic bromate. Does that mean I may get cancer because you did not know this would happen when you put bromide in the water? Are you not suppose to know this WATER DEPARTMENT?

                                                                                      • Pilgrims Nest
                                                                                        Pilgrims Nest  2 days back

                                                                                        The whole thing is fishy to me somehow. As if they are doing some kind of government testing on people.

                                                                                    • Donna White
                                                                                      Donna White  3 days back

                                                                                      How long have they known that sunlight turns bromide into carcegenic bromate?

                                                                                      • Douglas Lang
                                                                                        Douglas Lang  3 days back

                                                                                        Big black balls...

                                                                                        • Zac Catella
                                                                                          Zac Catella  3 days back

                                                                                          Imagine replacing the balls, feel like that'd be a real pain