In early 2014, Los Angeles County officials launched a unique program to help conserve the water supply during periods of severe drought: cover the city's reservoirs with hollow black polyethylene balls — better shown as “shade balls” — to prevent the water from evaporating.
It seems almost deceptively simple, but the program is working beautifully. Over 96 million of the four-inch plastic balls have been dumped into the reservoirs, covering the water's surface to protect against evaporation and contamination.
But more compelling, at least to the masses, is how cool the money saving program looks in action.
In the video above, officials release a truckful of the plastic balls into a reservoir in western Los Angeles. As the shade spheres roll into the water and blossom out to cover the water's surface, it looks almost like a gasoline spill, and it's hypnotic.
Though the clip was filmed in June -- and is just one of several releases dating back to early 2014 -- the eco-friendly program just recently went viral on social media.
Watch the video, and see what people are saying about the unique program below.
On Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti released the last 20,000 shade balls into a Los Angeles reservoir, signaling the program's successful completion.
California just covered a reservoir with black balls and it looks kinda amazing http://t.co/CiraW83Bq8 — Adam Howard (@skattyadz) August 12, 2015
And the Internet. Went. Nuts.
96,000,000 small black balls have been dumped into an LA reservoir, and it's not even a prank. The video's amazing: http://t.co/OFcKCmpJ8H — Tom Scott (@tomscott) August 12, 2015
Most agree the program is pretty damn amazing.
This morning I learned what shade balls are and they blew my goddamn mind. http://t.co/JisRQZcKcd pic.twitter.com/fbXmn2wyNb — Patrick Hogan (@phogan) August 11, 2015
And, of course, the term "shade balls" elicited quite the response.
I cannot get enough of local LA newscasters saying #ShadeBalls — Wu Sean Pat (@thenewconfucius) August 10, 2015
If you want to learn more about the program and how it works, this is a good resource.
In case you missed it, LA rolled out water-saving #shadeballs, and it's Internet gold http://t.co/aBoJVVElWk pic.twitter.com/1QRkGh7ooC — 89.3 KPCC (@KPCC) August 12, 2015
But if you just want to watch videos of the balls being released... well, we won't judge.
#ABCNews Watch: Hope for Drought Relief Floats With Black Plastic Balls: The city of Los Angeles is usi... http://t.co/rWBeW46zQp #News — #JadeHelm15 INTERN (@AnimalRightsJen) August 12, 2015