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Ivanhoe Reservoir’s shade balls are going away very soon

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Crews could take them out this week

A 2008 photo of the balls rolling into the reservoir.
A 2008 photo of the balls rolling into the reservoir.
Irfan Khan/Getty Images

The Ivanhoe Reservoir is having its balls removed, perhaps as soon as this week, the Eastsider LA reports. The floating “shade balls” were dumped into the reservoir in Silver Lake in 2008. They were added to keep sunlight from hitting the water and to help stop potentially harmful chemical reactions.

The balls were also nicknamed bird balls, since they have the added benefit of keeping birds and their poop out of the water. Because the Ivanhoe Reservoir’s water was being used as drinking water, that was an issue.

The four-inch balls were introduced into the reservoir in a grand display almost nine years ago. At the time, it was expected they’d stay in place for about three to five years, when the water was expected to be moved to Griffith Park’s Headworks, an underground water storage facility that would replace the open-air Ivanhoe and Silver Lake storage.

An LADWP spokeswoman told Eastsider that the reservoir has been drained, and there’s only about two feet of water left in it now. The water was used to refill the Silver Lake Reservoir. That reservoir should be refilled way ahead of schedule, thanks to a surplus of snowmelt in the Eastern Sierras.

The drained reservoir. Photo by Gary Leonard.
Courtesy of Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell

Before the balls go, some Silver Lakers, including Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, jumped into the reservoir like it was a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit and had a grand old time.

Photos by Gary Leonard.
Courtesy of Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell

The Ivanhoe isn’t the only shade ball repository in LA. In 2015, the city put about 96 million of the little plastic balls into Sylmar’s Los Angeles Reservoir. Here’s a video of some of them being dropped in.