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.



  • $3b in balls.

  • Another reason why i don't want to move to California is because of the traffic and the liberals the liberals and the state is a mess I would love to move to Texas Texas is much better

  • 5:51 a bird flies into the jet :()

  • Great video

  • *To the people who wants the answers quick instead of scrolling down thousands of pointless comments. They are doing this to cut down costs of reducing the algae problems since they were spending a lot of money on chlorine. Also, a myth debunked joke. Veritasium: it's rare to see 96,000,000 of anything. AutspieDrough: Well there's sand, cells, dirt, grass, dust, atoms, molecules, and a lot more so it's not rare at all.*

  • Another reason LA is such a strange place

  • Is this BPA plastic balls, well its probably to make LA people more gay

  • Your mother has seen more black balls than that!

  • I'm so confused what does he mean "why" there's legit a video of him putting them inside

  • Aren't those balls to reduce evaporation?

  • "the money we save on chemicals and evaporation will pay for half of the balls"...so you're not saving money...tax payers are now paying 50% more.

  • I admit, I only clicked to get this out of my recommendations. But I stayed and watched because I've been subbed to Veritasium for a while and generally like his videos. Now I hope CS-tv will realise I caved in to their annoying insistence and get that thumbnail out of my face!

  • balls are black for a reason, looked at my nuts* Me: no wonder why its black..

  • 4:16 chlorine is safe to drink?

  • 96 million miles to the Sun!

  • looks like poison

  • For those who don't care for the filler: 3:01 Original purpose of the balls: 5:37

  • Would be cool if white worked and it would help with reflecting sunlight and reducing warming somewhat

  • Does not this affect the Environmental system? The birds are not coming to the lake anymore

  • That was interesting. However, is running a outboard engine where the exhaust exits the engine under water a good idea...YUCK!

  • So...bromide + chlorine + sunlight mixed in H20 equals LIBERALISM ?? These BLACK balls are a cure for California's Liberalism ! 🤗🤗🤗

  • Veritasium: It's very rare to see 96 million of something Me: *P E W D I E P I E*

  • To stop birds and wildlife sitting on the water. Stop algee growth and stop evaporation. ..

  • Rack em up!

  • How did i get here? Literally 3am

  • For some reason I thought I saw this a couple years ago... weird.

  • If someone fell into it, what would happen.?

  • Excellent video with Spanish subs!

  • *World's Most Reservoir Reservoir Loses 96 Million Balls in a Matter of Days - New CS-tv Record!! (NOT CLICKBAIT!)*

  • How did no one notice the death of that bird at 5:52 ?

  • So 48,000,000 black men are now eunuchs?

  • to save you the work of watching it ….in reservoirs black balls are used to stop sunlight converting bromide into poisonous bromates and @5.51 after listening 20 times he said, 'to keep the wild foul off so they didn't get into jet engines' so if you failed to catch that there you are

  • When you have trypophobia, but you're too curious.

  • Rip random bird that got blended at 5:50

  • Wish I was the sales rep that got paid the commission on $32M of black balls! That guy must literally be balling now!

  • Hey” has anyone seen my black ball ...🙇‍♂️

  • I would think sooner or later the balls would lose their UV protection and would break up.Yes or No?

  • Why oh WHYYYYY did you never even TOUCH them!! Like put your got damn hand down in that ball soup and swirl like a MAD MAN!!🤪 Especially when the boat is moving!!😛 And what if the boats propeller shreds a few.. must've happened right!? And doesn't that engine pollute the water?? I mean, it wasn't an electric one was it? Ps. Bro-mate.. Wooooord!!

  • The marvels of engineering!

  • There are so many jokes to be made here that the only REAL option is just to make a joke about how many jokes can be made here.


  • Black is always right..

  • I never knew there were 96 million balls in Los Angeles on anything... 😀

  • Sippin on straight Chlorine


  • A Gas outboard engine on the reservoir. Why not an Electric boat that wouldn't pollute the water.

  • talk about being blackballed 😮

  • its really rare to have 96 million views

  • Derek: it's very rare to see 96 million of anything Pewds: yeah? Look at my subscribers, I'm almost there.

  • In Seattle we have many open water reservoirs and I'm sure the same problem exists with carcinogens but of course no one is even talking about the issue or trying to solve it. The politicians are all too busy trying to figure out how to collect more taxes to spend on their pet projects.

  • I feel like I could run across the surface of the black balls if I run fast enough

  • In Seattle Washington we have many open water resivuors


  • Bromide is not harmless. One of the three BAD halogens. Effects the thyroid. Chlorine also a bad halogen, the other being fluoride. Think about it.

  • To keep water from evaporating.

  • If not for the durability carbon black provides, the balls would be more efficient if they were white right?

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

  • Veritasium: it's really rare to see 96 million of anything Pewdiepie fans: Am I a joke to you

  • Is it safe for a motor boat to roam around in the reservoir?

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

  • The SHADE balls are black to keep light out of the water Wow Congrats A new fact

  • LA sux!!!!!

  • this is gay

  • Good thing not "Blue Balls," but that's another video! 💃😁🤣

  • Se ve bien kulero eso en el agua!!

  • unreal ~ now what happens when the water now gets heated ~ heating the bromate and chlorine and what about the release of the chemicals they are used to make them~ nano in the water--carbon black ~ WTF !!!!! this is going to release into the water and cause environmental \~ what this guy is saying is totally BS ~ everyone better get a RO or distiller ~ the cancer rates and the auto immune is going to spike Tony

  • The black balls are there to keep the water from evaporating

  • Cool!

  • So they were worried about carcinogens, so they put a bunch of plastic balls in the water........🤔😑

  • “Did you think they were nuts” 🤣🤣🤣

  • Is that billy Joel working undercover driving that boat!lol

  • LOL.

  • I was going over the Grapevine a couple of months ago and I saw the reservoir and was completely baffled by what was floating on top of it. Now I know. Great post.

  • So water goes from filtering to laying in open air before getting to the peoples house.. I can see nothing wrong??

  • Did you see that? That airplane engine suctioned a bird. ☹️

  • Okay, so why didnt he get into how unsafe it must be to fall in!!

  • Why is there a motor boat in drinking water

  • Yes more plastic chemicals im the drinking water, fumny thought the sunlight sterilises.. would prefer the algae.

  • Worried about the balls leaching, but driving through the reservoir with a 4 stroke gas motor?!Too funny! At least the balls cover up anyone seeing the oil spilling out of the engine 😂

  • Before long it will be 96 million tons of my blue balls on that Resevoir

  • I dunno call me old fashion but I dont want anyone putting anything in my drinking water, fluoride and black balls including


  • Morron

  • How does the black carbon die help reduce the breakdown of the plastic via solar energy? Does it strengthen the bonds in the plastic?

    • Nope, its kinda like melanin in human skin. It absorbs the light, e.g. it transforms light photons into heat energy in safe manner, instead of letting photons hit chemical bonds in polymer structure that can break them down, similar to how melanin absorbs UV light so it doesnt penetrate deep into skin and cause sunburn/skin cancer.

  • bruhmide and bruhmate


  • Plastic in the hot sun leaching into the water supply. Yum.

  • omg the bird that dies at 5:50 in the turbine

  • Once again the private sector was ahead of Government but the big question is why treat the water and then store it in a open pond. Why not treat it and pump it to the consumer like the rest of the world.

  • why just not just chlorine? WTF its ur drinking water. Your body is not a swimming pool. Your important bacteria will die in your body which normally helps you

  • On 5:53 a bird got sucked into the jet engine

  • i thought this was a mr beast video lmao

  • What a short time solution.. :/

  • Total cost $31, 680,000

  • food grade you mean that plastic that turns men into women yeah

  • So this is why anericans dont like to drink that much tap water, maybe their ice cubes were tap water but I hear that they usually just bought bottled water that they drink

  • i just realized that the water im drinking may be dangerous... because i live in a banana republic

  • Chlorine it's self is carcinogenic and bromate is another cancer producing agent when combine with other chemicals in soda

  • I saw this after the video about how to make videos go viral😂