Notice to Strangers coming from Google: Google STOLE this image from me. You are not original – about 20 people a day come to get this image. If you link directly to it, I will know, and will hunt you down and contact your server for theft. I’m just sayin.’
I knew they had threatened to do this, but I didn’t realize they had started until I read this in the Los Feliz Ledger:
Ivanhoe Reservoir is beginning to resemble a Chuck E Cheese ball pit as Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power officials have begun placing plastic “bird balls” in 100,000 ball increments on the reservoir’s surface to protect it from a harmful chemical reaction that could contaminate the city’s water supply. Ivanhoe will be covered with the dark-gray balls for at least four years…
The balls will cost $1 million each for Ivanhoe and Elysian, which provide drinking water to downtown and South Los Angeles…To keep sunlight off the water before all 6 million balls arrive, officials will place temporary, UV ray-blocking plastic covers over the reservoirs along with the balls, the department said.
There are only a handful of companies that make bird balls, and they were designed to protect birds, by putting the balls in bodies of water near airports, or in wastewater or toxic dumps or poisoned water used in gold mining (which uses cyanide.) (Birds can’t see the water when it’s pitted with balls. Of course, neither can Silver Lake residents.)
Leaving aside the fact that the DWP is dumping the bird balls in to eliminate wildlife, not protect it, I was concerned about tons of plastic balls thrown into drinking water, and researched this. The first place I called was Sparkletts, of course! After several calls there I reached a PR woman who told me that 1 gallon water jugs are never reused, but they do re-use the 5 gallon jugs. However, they recommend to consumers that they don’t store them in the sun, or the plastic could leach. Sparkletts doesn’t make the containers, however, just the water, so I had to keep calling.
I found the manufacturers of the bottles, Dupont Liquivox and others, but although they make the bottles, they knew nothing about HDPE. I had to go to the source: the oil companies! Have you ever tried to talk to chemists at Dupont, Exxon and Chevron?
Rex Tillerson at Exxon said “we have no information on polymers,” and hung up on me.
James Alexander at Chevron Phillips spent a little longer on the phone with me. He said HDPE won’t leak into water, and it’s FDA approved. He added that there are many different grades of plastic and I should find a consultant.
Anna Buss of Exxon Mobil Chemical said that HDPE does degrade in sunlight, and that’s why they put UV stabilizers in plastic. She directed me to this page on their website, where over 20 grades of HDPE are listed. She repeated that all of the plastics listed are only approved (by the FDA and others) “in principle”, and that the manufacturer has to further verify DURING THE MAKING that these plastics are safe. (Many plastics become more toxic as they are manufactured, which is one reason it’s so hard to recycle plastics.)
All of the places I called – which is many more than listed here – said plastic degrades in heat and in the sun. I doubt the water itself gets that hot in slk, but I’m sure the plastic balls baking in the sun start sizzling! I’ve read many articles about how unsafe it is to reuse water bottles (which kind of conflicts with all the admonitions not to use so many bottles, but that’s what makes journalism great.) Some of these reports are here, here, here, including Failure Analysis of HDPE outdoors by the Madison Group plastic engineers.
Environment News Service includes this report from Princeton Institute of Science and Technology of Materials (scroll down):
Long-term use of high-density polyethylene drainage pipes could result in prolonged contamination of the water table as well as ecological and environmental damage, a Princeton study warned today.
The study finds that volatile organic carbons are leached into water as a result of high-density polyethylene pipe (HDPE), widely used in the construction of drainage systems, storm sewers, commercial, residential and highway drainage as well as in mining and agriculture.
HDPE is a petroleum-based plastic that is combustible without the use of flame retardant chemicals. HDPE is now being substituted for older materials in storm sewer and drainage projects…
Many VOCs are toxic. VOCs benzene, xylene and toluene are carcinogens and formaldehyde and ethylene are known to harm plants.
Plastic bottles used for packaging water should never be reused, especially the softer plastic bottles. The plastic bottles contain toxic chemicals. In time the plastic begins to break down and releases these toxins and does so far quicker if the bottles are reused. If you can taste the plastic as you are drinking the water then you are drinking the plastic! The bottles are even more dangerous if they are in a hot place…walking around with a bottle of water in your hand on a blazing hot day with the sun on it will make the toxins leach even more.
I’m so glad I drink bottled water!
Let’s start with the LA DWP, shall we? Did you get your bill this month? (guaranteed to be higher next time!) The leaflet with it says they’re “committed to clean energy sources that will decrease the carbon footprint of the City of Los Angeles and the entire Southern California region.”
I don’t know, is unloading 6 million plastic balls into city reservoirs decreasing our carbon footprint? Methinks they have the buzzwords, but lack the skill of understanding. I called Nelson Environmental in Canada, and they confirmed that their bird balls are all new, no recycled plastic. The reason there is so much media attention on plastic bags and bottles is because it is very expensive to recycle, unlike glass or metal, and so it just accumulates in dumps. Go Green Charleston says: In 2001 the U.S. generated 1,980,000 tons of HDPE, but only recycled 380,000.
I wonder where these millions of new bird balls will end up, after leaching into slk for 4 years?…in the ocean, or the landfill dump?
I started this blog because of the ghastly fire in gp last year. Along with not having the correct fire trucks for the job, for some reason the LAFD was unable to access the emergency water supplies inside gp for just such a fire. That meant that the hard working water helicopters had to fly in almost all of the water – I’m guessing maybe 90%- from Silver Lake! I’ve seen cb promise both in person and in print, many times, that slk would be kept open for this reason alone. How does this square with his namby-pamby hailing of the DWP closing Ivanhoe??? I mean, they can’t dump flammable plastic balls on a fire. And what about for possible earthquake emergency use? It’s ridiculous.
Last, but not least, what exactly happened to those Best Management Practices spelled out in the Environmental Report, H. David Nahai? This is smack in the middle of breeding season for every single bird and mammal around, as well as being a major Migration Flyway. In what DWP universe does it make sense to throw out (it was not used for any purpose, even industrial) vital water that every animal, bird and reptile has depended upon for its whole life? And then not immediately fill it up again??
PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW ANY BETTER
I wonder if this has occurred to anyone: Ivanhoe is one third the size of Silver Lake, and provides much less water to the city. Why the hell are you putting bird balls in the smaller reservoir and ignoring the big one? Ivanhoe’s flow-through is one day (for new water to replace the old.) Doesn’t it make sense that slk is more likely to develop bromides? Please, check your logic and intelligence at the door.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council are sheep. They’re along for the ride.
LaBonge is…doing nothing.
But James McDaniel, dwp Water System chief operating officer, said in the Ledger article, “I’m open to other ideas. We have certain criteria for sanitation and cost,” he said, “but if people could come up with ideas that give us the shading and it’s less visually unattractive, I’m not ruling anything out.”
Considering LaBonge and the SLNC just gave him a wink and a pat on the back I think it was pretty ballsy of him to say that, don’t you? In a good way. Well, Mr. McDaniel, I don’t have the money or the resources or manpower or time that they have, as I’m just a solitary cartoonist and writer, but I’ll take you up on your offer!
Why not do what the City of Los Angeles signed off for you to do in the 421 page Environmental Report that I summarized here? Stop using these reservoirs for drinking water and divert the water to the Headlands reservoir, as you are supposed to do anyway in 2009 (9 months away). You haven’t used these reservoirs for potable water for over 6 months anyway, and that’s worked fine. Turn them into as ASSET for the city, as the report provides. (I mean really, do you want another fight like the Meadows looming over you?) Here’s how New Jersey turned their reservoir into a wetlands and recreation area: here.
And Mr. McDaniel, exactly how much research did the dwp do about chlorine percentages? As much research as I’ve done?! Have you, like, hired any outside consultants? According to Carol Tucker at dwp, you have not.
I’m happy to learn, however, that the dwp has $2 million dollars to spend on polluting the water and the planet without trying some other method first or even investigating this. Why did the rates just go up again, again?
How to reach the LA DWP:
(213) 367-1361 No busy signal! Real person answers.