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

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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 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.

Published on


May 10, 2019

veritasiumblack ballsballsball pitshadereservoirblackplasticwaterLAlos angelesLA reservoirLADWPbromatebromidewater qualityalgaeevaporationwater supplychlorinesunlightsciencephysicscarcinogencarcinogenic




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Comments 58 604
James Hall
James Hall 8 minutes ago
WTF is Boba? Must be a California thing.
Marks Hwang
Marks Hwang 26 minutes ago
you won't be able to save anyone falls into the reservoir
Marks Hwang
Marks Hwang 26 minutes ago
you won't be able to save anyone falls into the reservoir
Anunay Ranjan
Anunay Ranjan 34 minutes ago
Wow so much plastic ... Love it already !!
Al Rex
Al Rex 36 minutes ago
If every viewer gave a dollar, this project would be paid for
Doktor 51 minute ago
Good to see my tax dollars being put to good use. smh
Hdofu Fox
Hdofu Fox 53 minutes ago
somewhere 96 million dads are telling 96 million kids they aren't going to get their 96 million balls back.
Norman Fresh
Norman Fresh 54 minutes ago
those loitering birds.
Silverado4x4 56 minutes ago
In 30 years probably going to hear of outbreak of cancer from these shade balls they say they are safe but have they actually tested over years and years of someone drinking and showering in water covered by SHADE BALLS!!
Steve Shrader
Steve Shrader Hour ago
...these are actually alien body snatcher pods...and it's already to late...and yeah...youtube was in on it...
Adam Downes
Adam Downes Hour ago
Okay USvid I finally gave in and watched a video about plastic balls on a reservoir, happy?
LUX Socialite
LUX Socialite Hour ago
Black Is Incredible
Gaylene Smith
Gaylene Smith 2 hours ago
Why didn't they use a hovercraft? Would the propellers cut up those plastic balls?
Chris Paul
Chris Paul 2 hours ago
Feels like more than 96,000,000
76tony19 2 hours ago
That interviewer sucked
casey K
casey K 3 hours ago
I love how he puts air quotes around water is safe to drink lol 8:35
Sobe Girl
Sobe Girl 3 hours ago
So what happens after 10 years to the balls? Our landfills get overwhelmed? How much is this costing the tax payers?
Sam Mind Body and Soul
That resoviour has had 96million black balls in it. Still not as many as your mom
sagitariojahm 3 hours ago
Ok someone findout if not they just was poisoning to help the cancer sealers
jan smith
jan smith 4 hours ago
we're trying a grass root effort in spreading the world about the amazing sailing you tube channel called “Sailing La Vagabonde”.... Lets Help the Sailing La Vagabonde get over 1 Million subscribers...they are so close. Elana & Reilly are amazing partners & have been sailing around the world for the past 5 years.
Joe Bloger
Joe Bloger 4 hours ago
is this racest
mattmatt115 4 hours ago
To me it looks like something that in 20 years time, will be known to the state of california to cause cancer or other reproductive harm.
Nero Seraphim
Nero Seraphim 5 hours ago
Omg what gappened to all the castrated black guys?
G 4 R
G 4 R 6 hours ago
Isnt plastic cancerous?
Panda Poot
Panda Poot 6 hours ago
So did you guys end up getting boba?
cecilyt006 6 hours ago
Turns out I don't care and I'm sick of looking at your dopey face.
Kevvvy Kev
Kevvvy Kev 7 hours ago
That's were they just gone start thrownin bodyz at
Dan Baltizar
Dan Baltizar 8 hours ago
A lot of this is not true or correct. All the state has to do to It a complete end to its lack of water is reclamation plants. They do it in the deserts of Arizona and SW Texas. Or desalination of ocean water which might be better since the ocean levels are rising 1/16th of an inch. Yr.
Dan Baltizar
Dan Baltizar 8 hours ago
If the people of CA, the citizens, would WAKE UP and can all their politicians and thee millions of $$$$ they steal and use for their OWN agendas, the state COULD actually become an good place but now it stands as a cesspool of gangs, drugs and illegals from all over the world,
Alexis Perez
Alexis Perez 8 hours ago
Wouldn't it be better if they covered it with Solar panels? Win Win?
Chris Paul
Chris Paul 2 hours ago
Alexis Perez bird poop Everywhere
Déaglán 8 hours ago
Wow so many puns...
simon 8 hours ago
Who had the job to check off the delivery and count the balls to check they weren't stiffed on their purchase.
Chris Partridge
Chris Partridge 9 hours ago
I want some of these for my pool.
OldAzureSoul Ben
OldAzureSoul Ben 9 hours ago
3:00 for answer
SKMC69 11 hours ago
Eben Burger
Eben Burger 11 hours ago
Just grow some water lilies!
Fahd Ali
Fahd Ali 12 hours ago
2:13 Did you think they were nuts. Nooo! (His dumbass thought to lie and save his ass + job) lol
Josh K
Josh K 12 hours ago
Why Are 96,000,000 Black Balls on This Reservoir? because there are 48,000,000 black guys in the reservoir?
Ashwini Bhadauria
Ashwini Bhadauria 14 hours ago
No mention of all the fish, in that lake, that are now no more, because there is no sun light, and therefore no food for the fish. Interesting cover up!
Barrey Jewall
Barrey Jewall Hour ago
Ashwini Bhadauria it’s not a lake, it’s a reservoir of post-filtered drinking water. There are no fish. They now use much less chlorine since the balls prevent it from oxidizing as quickly, not to mention they no longer produce cancer-causing bromate.
stan goldin
stan goldin 15 hours ago
So stupid !! The balls should be white !!!
sheila tolley
sheila tolley 17 hours ago
Yeah great! More plastic for 10 yes, let wildlife suffer once again & speaking of birds who's bird brain thought up this idea?????
Shiva Chella
Shiva Chella 17 hours ago
Anything against nature is dangerous. Will these balls heated under the sun may release carcinogens into water?
Greg Everett
Greg Everett 19 hours ago
Sorry Sarah now I understand LOL
Crazybob 20 hours ago
96.000.000 blackballs? White bitches will be losing it.
Arpudli 20 hours ago
Does not this creates microplastics?
John Hungerford
John Hungerford 21 hour ago
I have to admit, you have “balls”
grev 21 hour ago
Almost 1 for every PewDiePie subscriber.
yackawaytube 22 hours ago
Who's the comedian with the black balls? Bill Cosby
Chris 23 hours ago
48,000,000 black men are swimming in the reservoir
mircic91 23 hours ago
This is a "BANGER" Mr Beast was talking about :P
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