California’s shade balls will save an estimated 300 million gallons of water, and are an important part of the state’s $34.5 million water quality initiative. The balls have proven to be a (relatively) cheap way for the state to conform to the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate that all reservoirs must be covered. Other initiatives, such as installing two floating covers or dividing the reservoir in half with a bisecting dam, which would have cost more than $300 million.
Still, others doubt the “shade balls'” long term efficacy. Said Nathan Krekula, biologist and operations manager at Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratory, “I don’t believe that in the long run this provides a good strategy in protecting the water. I believe that this will increase evaporations due to a greater surface area as well as providing a great place for bacteria to have a nice environment to grow protected from UV light that kills it.”
Will “throwing shade” help amend California’s “exceptional drought status?” That answer will come over time. For now, we’re just happy to see that they’ve gotten the ball rolling.