SILVER LAKE — For the past six years, 400,000, black plastic balls have been floating on the surface of the Ivanhoe Reservoir, shading the water from sunlight and preventing a chemical reaction that forms a carcinogen. Next year, however, the Ivanhoe Reservoir, located next to the larger Silver Lake Reservoir, will be temporarily drained to install a new pipeline, and all those 4-inch Shade Balls will be removed, crushed and recycled. But instead of turning those Shade Balls into plastic mulch, a group of Silver Lake residents have come up with some creative alternatives for the balls, including turning them in to floating arm chairs.
The floating arm chairs – along with illuminated Solar Flowers – are some of the conceptual and whimsical ideas that come from the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy, the nonprofit dedicated to preserving the reservoirs as open space. The concepts are intended to get people thinking about more creative uses for all that plastic. “It really is a rare opportunity for a major public art project,” said Craig Collins, president of the conservancy.
The L.A. Department of Water and Power, the city agency in charge of the reservoirs, plans to destroy the Shade Balls because once the pipeline project is completed, the Ivanhoe reservoir will be filled with non-potable water and no longer be part of the city’s supply of drinking water. But if the agency agreed, Collins said that a formal call for ideas and selection process could be held to review creative uses for all those Shade Balls.
“We think that there’s plenty of reason to do something that serves the community better and advances the cause of public art.”