Reservoir Shade and Bird Balls – Designed and Made by Microdyne

Microdyne’s Reservoir Shade Balls are used around the world to conserve water. (Water conservation balls.)

Microdyne invented a concept and production technology to make the balls and properly keep them properly floating.  They are also called Reservoir Shade or “Bird” Balls.  When the first water company that used the balls were poured into four reservoirs around Los Angles, it achieved worldwide news coverage.

The balls are useful to keep sun from evaporating water, keep birds from landing on the water (and defecating in it), and lower bromide when it naturally[i] occurs in the local water.

Recently environmentalists have attacked the water saving aspects by calculating the water used in oil production and plastic manufacture of the balls. They indicate that it would take from .2 to 2.5 years to equal the water saved. They reasoned that the amount of water used was similar to the water saved.

However, they failed to note that the life of our Microdyne Reservoir Shade Balls is many times longer than the 2.5 years.Other irresponsible headlines showed up in Nature and PBS parroting the same figure without mentioning that the life of the balls would increase the water savings yield from 4 to 10 times as a result of this oversight!

No mention of the other health benefits was calculated into the overall benefits of using these Reservoir Shade Balls such as reduced bromide production, or bird waste in the water supply. As a result less water treatment chemicals can be used as a result. 

Most business people are ecstatic to get from a .2 to 2.5-year payback, let alone the additional savings over many more years of actual use.

Water conservation is important, just as is the appropriate use of our precious plastic. HDPE plastic, the material the balls are made from, is recyclable up to 10 times. If they were recycled back into our balls, the overall plastic useful life time is 100 years. Yes, a small amount of additional water is used in the process, but far, far less than the savings over the useful life of the balls.

Responsible analysis of the use of reservoir shade balls must include the real costs and benefits not a single dimension, as the authors of the study suggest, but they missed the business aspects.


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