By Sandra Emerson
Ron Ellingson will be watching the Mt. Baldy reservoir closely this ski season.
The 10-million-gallon reservoir is used to make snow during the ski season and like any body of water, succumbs to evaporation, but for Ellingson, president of Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts Inc., the evaporation means higher costs and less snow for skiers.
So, to keep costs down and provide more snow to visitors, Ellingson contracted with Glendora-based manufacturer XavierC LLC, to install hollow plastic conservation balls to reduce the evaporation.
“It really helps if we have a good ski season,” Ellingson said. “We depend on man-made snow right now, unless Mother Nature helps with a big storm.”
The company started delivering the balls in November, but due to the change in season, the rest will be delivered in the spring.
The balls are 4 inches in diameter and float along the top of the reservoir to reduce evaporation by up to 90 percent.
As the water level rises and lowers, the balls adjust by piling on top of each other or by spreading out across the surface. Water is pumped to the large reservoir from a smaller million-gallon reservoir that is filled from natural underground wells.
The use of the balls could save Ellingson about $10,000 a month in pumping costs and boost the production of the man-made snow they depend on for their ski runs.
“If we don’t have a full reservoir at the beginning of the year, we can’t cover all the runs and makes it so the skiing isn’t as good as it would be if we have them all covered,” Ellingson said.
The owner of XavierC LLC, Sydney Chase, approached Ellingson at the Mt. Baldy Lodge, which he owns, about the product. Chase has been visiting Mt. Baldy for 10 years and saw the need for her product.
“I knew it could help him and he really agreed, so we ended up getting as many (plastic conservation balls) as we could on before the big freeze and we will finish up in early spring,” Chase said. “He will be saving great amount of money by May, April of next year.”
The company has contracted with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to install $7 million to $8 million balls on its reservoirs.
“We’ve been approached by municipalities, water districts, we’ve been approached by several different ski resorts waiting and watching to see how Ron’s goes,” Chase said.