Silver Lake says goodbye to its shade balls

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and Silver Lake residents amid the shade balls | Gary Leonard

SILVER LAKE —  It’s been nearly nine years since 400,000 plastic shade balls were dumped into the Ivanhoe Reservoir. There, the 4-inch balls have bobbed up and down on the surface, helping reduce potentially harmful chemical reactions but also marring the view of the bright-blue water.  Starting as soon as this week, however, those balls are going bye-bye.

On Monday, a group of Silver Lake residents  and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell waded into the reservoir to take pictures and toss around the balls. It was kind of like a going away party before the 4-inch wide globes are taken out to be recycled.

The plan back in 2008 was to have the shade balls removed within five years when the giant underground Headworks water storage tanks in Griffith Park were to be completed. “We will return your unobstructed view of the beautiful water of Ivanhoe Reservoir as soon as possible,” former Councilmember Tom LaBonge said at the time.

The first phase of the Headworks tanks were completed in 2014, and work began on the second phase last year. The shade balls, however, remained in Ivanhoe,  which from a distance has looked like it had been paved over with asphalt.

Goodbye, shade balls | Gary Leonard

Now, however, officials have finally decided that it’s time to get the shade balls out since Ivanhoe will no longer store drinking water.  The water level has fallen to only about  two feet as the reservoir has been drained and water  used to fill the empty Silver Lake Reservoir next door, said an LADWP spokeswoman.  She said crews may be able to start collecting and removing the balls as early as this week.

Once the shade balls are gone, the Hyperion and Silver Lake reservoirs will be refilled with water starting later this month.  Will anyone miss those shade balls?

Shade balls rolling into Ivanhoe Reservoir in 2008 | LADWP

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  1. Suzanne Obdrzalek

    What are they going to do with the balls?

  2. If the balls served a purpose, which it did, why are we removing them? It’s a shame aesthetics won over function. Now the water will continue to evaporate instead being efficiently used by the local community.

    • Hi Francisco,

      It’s my understanding that the reservoir will no longer be serving as a source of drinking water as the supply has been moved to underground storage facility in Griffith Park in accordance to a federal mandate to phase out open-air-drinking-water reservoirs.

  3. It was such an affront to put these balls in the reservoir…….in Silver Lake of all communities. We are the creative engine and moral center of Los Angeles and deserve better and I’m glad the powers that be are finally rectifying this affront. The joy you see in the photographs is real and you won’t find a more diverse and individualistic community anywhere else in America.

  4. My darling Silver Lake –

    I’ll never forget your glistening black balls.


    Mike in Echo Park

  5. Great news. Now maybe people can turn their attention to things that actually matter.

    • If we didn’t move forward with core belief that EVERY detail small and large matters we wouldn’t maintain our blue ribbon community certification year after year.

      • Silver Lake has, possibly, THE WORST roads in LA. going into Silver Lake is like driving over the moon surface, it’s insane. Murals are being defaced. The crime has spiked to a huge degree too, home robberies, car thefts and break ins are rampant. Go on the Nextdoor Silver Lake page and see all the crime that is affecting everyone. . I’m glad you’re patting yourself on the back for figuring out this ball thing, but the reality is this is such a huge distraction from every issue that actually matters.

  6. Councilman Mitch O’farrell… please push to replace the balls with FLOATING SOLAR PANELS instead ..

    Imagine how much free electricity would be produced for your community.

    Make a better world.. I hope someone can pass this idea on the the right people

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