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LADWP Shoots Down FOX News' 'Shade Balls' Shade

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When Mayor Eric Garcetti unleashed 20,000 little black "shade balls" into the Los Angeles Reservoir last week, the nation was captivated. It was the first time in recorded memory that the New York Times actually managed to be timely on a story about Los Angeles. Outlets across America all were quick to jump on the story, including ourselves, the L.A. Times, CNN, and the The Washington Post. Of course, leave it to FOX News to cut through the bias of the LIBERAL MEDIA.

On Thursday, the FOX News website posted a story in their typically-tempered tone, calling the shade balls a "potential disaster" unleashed upon the populace of Los Angeles. The experts that FOX News spoke to for the story all agreed: black was the wrong color, since it would create more heat and thus promote the bacteria growth they would supposedly prevent and also speed up evaporation.

Who are some of these so-called "experts" that FOX talked to for their story? One of them is the supposed founder of a biotech firm, Modern Moon Farms, that through a quick Google search, doesn't seem to exist outside of this story. Another is a teacher at an online, for-profit university.

Not willing to take such an attack lying down, LADWP issued a press release today, calling the report "laden with factual errors and uninformed assumptions," making it the first time in their history that FOX News had been accused of such misdeeds. "These 'doom and gloom' theories are nonsense, and quite frankly, flat out wrong," said Marty Adams, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager of the Water System.

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The LADWP points out that, yes, the "Carbon Black" coating—which is safe for drinking water and designed to absorb the UV rays that create the unwanted carcinogen bromate in the water—does absorb heat on the top of the balls, but the air inside the balls acts as insulation to keep it cool. In fact, the utility finds that water is actually cooler leaving the reservoir than going in. As for bacterial growth or chemical leaching, the LADWP maintains the balls are made of plastic that is safe and that, "Our water quality monitoring is vigorous and we constantly track for any abnormalities."

Sure, it might be safe for now, skeptics might say, but what about down the road? Well, LADWP has actually been using the shade balls since 2008 (as also noted in the FOX story), and has not encountered any problems with them yet.

If there is one thing the story probably does get right, it's that the balls are more of a measure to be in compliance with EPA rules than actual water conservation. "This is not about evaporation," Dennis Santiago, a risk analyst for Torrance-based Total Bank Solutions told FOX News. "The water savings spin is purely political. What the black balls are really about is that [Los Angeles] needs to stay in-compliance with an EPA requirement to place a physical cover over potable water reservoirs." L.A. Weekly saw through it last week, calling it a "stupid" way of saving water (if only used for that purpose).

Anyway, here's another look at that hypnotic video of the shade balls being released in the Los Angeles Reservoir:

LA just completed a project at the LA Reservoir to save 300 million gallons of water by deploying shade balls on its surface, saving our city over $250 million dollars while keeping our water clean & safe.

Posted by Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday, August 10, 2015
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"Shade balls away!"