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

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  • Published on:  Friday, May 10, 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.


  • Tiznado  (May 10, 2019))

    Veritasium: It’s really rare to see 96 million of anythingSand grains: Am I joke to you?

  • Mason Green  (2 hours ago))


  • meow bastard  (5 hours ago))

    Tiznado your mom has many sets of black balls slamming her chin every day

  • RUHDD4HVN  (4 days ago))

    Okay I'll say it....... "It took a lot of balls to make this video."

  • Well played sir.......well played!😁

  • meow bastard  (3 hours ago))

    +George Tempest your mom has many sets of black balls slamming against her chin

  • Georgina Marie  (4 days ago))

    It will be 95,999,999 when I go there and take one home

  • Georgina Marie  (1 day ago))

    VoltisArt I don't live in LA sooo

  • VoltisArt  (1 day ago))

    Why L.A. can't have nice things. :P

  • "It’s really rare to see 96 million of anything"The 9 year old army: *_ARE WE A JOKE TO YOU?_*

  • LB07  (2 hours ago))

    Ashutosh Bhat yes you can see the 9yr old army

  • meow bastard  (3 hours ago))

    Your mom has many sets of black balls slamming against her chin every day

  • Truck Taxi  (3 days ago))

    $32M you know the manufacturer was extremely happy with that order

  • +adam gould So they can give it to their P3 partnters for the kickbacks...it's a closed loop.

  • tagsdaddy  (6 hours ago))

    How else do you get BPH into the rest of the states population that refuse to buy water in plastic bottles.. Give it a generation and California will be ALL women... Good for them, but good luck reproducing...

  • polt  (May 14, 2019))

    Jesus christ, I finally watched it youtube are you happy?!

  • Darth KEK  (7 minutes ago))

    I downvoted this - quite interesting - video in the hopes it would remove such things from my feed in the future.

  • Sir Hyperion  (1 hour ago))

    Yes its so annoying

  • Zodayn  (3 days ago))

    If you ask a chemist if you're friends what does he say?You're my BrO⁻ ₃

  • RandomEmyr  (17 hours ago))

    For those small souls who do not get this, BrO-3 ( I can’t do it with on my phone) is the formula for Bromate.

  • Samuel Pearlman  (1 day ago))

    +Opposite34 Yup, family can be toxic

  • It'z Safi  (3 days ago))

    Moooooom!!!Is this Minecraft?

  • Torri Hixon  (5 days ago))

    Who else is here from the "my video went viral" video to watch the viral video lol?

  • Sangeet Khatri  (55 minutes ago))

    What's funny is that I was ignoring this video even after pushing hard because I am never certain what to expect out of a clickbait title. It could be something I'm not interested in so I never click through.I like videos titled in a way that tells me exactly what the video is about.

  • monkaS  (3 hours ago))

    wait a minute

  • 5:50 R.I.P speckled least yo u got 30M views (MAYBE)

  • I WANT SUBS  (6 hours ago))

    Hahahahaha lolololol