What is the use of these 96,000,000 black balls in this reservoir?

At a glance, you may think this huge space covered with small black balls is a playground for kids. But, you thought wrong because this huge space is in fact, a reservoir!

You may be wondering, what is the purpose of these small black balls? Why are then even put there in the first place?

Image: Veritasium/Youtube

Well, it turns out that these 96 million black balls do have a very important purpose. This is discussed by Physicist Derek Muller in a video uploaded via the Youtube channel, Veritasium.

Image: Veritasium/Youtube

According to the said video, aside from the purpose of these black balls which is to prevent evaporation of the water from the reservoir, which is proven to be very beneficial in a place with a dry climate like Los Angeles, there is another more remarkable reason as to why these are put there.

Image: Veritasium/Youtube

Water authorities were faced first with the problem of bromide, a natural substance found in saltwater. Bromide on its own is harmless to humans, but if some of this salty water creeps into the reservoir and undergoes ozone treatment with the rest of LA’s drinking water, it can form the compound bromate. And bromate is a carcinogen – a substance that can be cancerous.

This started to become a problem when the LA Department of Water and Power (LADWP) noticed that bromate levels kept spiking when the water enters the reservoir. It turns out, when bromide and chlorine interact with sunlight, the reaction produces even more bromate.

Image: Veritasium/Youtube

So, they brainstormed and came up with these black balls as the solution to their problem. Marty Adams, the head of LADWP further explains that these black balls also prevent toxic waste from slipping directly into the water plus, these balls can still be working for up to 10 years.

Truly amazing how even these seemingly simple things can turn into very useful stuff with the help of innovation and science.