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The water footprint of water conservation using shade balls in California

Nature Sustainabilityvolume 1pages358360 (2018) | Download Citation


The interest in quick technologic fixes to complex water problems increases during extreme hydroclimatic events. However, past evidence shows that such fixes might be associated with unintended consequences. We revisit the idea of using shade balls in the Los Angeles reservoir to reduce evaporation during the recent drought in California, and question its sustainability by revealing the water footprint of this technologic water conservation solution.

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E.H. acknowledges funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number P2EZP2-165244).

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Author notes

    • Erfan Haghighi

    Present address: Department of Water Resources and Drinking Water, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dübendorf, Switzerland


  1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Erfan Haghighi
  2. Center for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, London, UK

    • Kaveh Madani
  3. Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

    • Kaveh Madani
  4. Twente Water Centre, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands

    • Arjen Y. Hoekstra
  5. Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

    • Arjen Y. Hoekstra


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E.H. and K.M. conceived and designed the study. All authors performed the research, analysed the data and wrote the paper.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Erfan Haghighi.

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