Speaking up for Hetch Hetchy Valley

December 2, 2010 § 3 Comments

What do you tell a major, environmentally and socially progressive metropolitan area that drowns Yosemite’s twin valley for its water and electricity?

NBC interview with Restore Hetch Hetchy Board Chair Mark Cederborg and Executive Director Mike Marshall.

Restore Hetch Hetchy!

That’s right, San Francisco gets its water from the Hetch-Hetchy Valley, part of the Yosemite Park System. Legislation was passed that enabled a dam to be built on National Park land early in the 1900s. But San Francisco can manage its water supply without this dam. In the same way that most Angelenos don’t know where their water comes from, or the impact it has on those places, most San Franciscans don’t know their water comes from Hetchy Hetchy either. They don’t know that John Muir’s heart broke when he lost the political battle over the valley, or that today Senator Feinstein could be a game changer for its fate…but isn’t interested. And I’m guessing that most folks in the Bay Area don’t know that when you look at the residential water use outside of San Francisco County (with an admirable per capita consumption rate of 68 gallons per person/day), you find veritable water hogs on a par with or even exceeding Los Angeles, viz. San Bruno: 95.4 gpp/d; Stanford University: 107 gpp/d; Redwood City: 130.5 gpp/d; Palo Alto: 203.8 gpp/d; Menlo Park: 338.9 gpp/d! (Follow this Sierra Club link to page 5 for a list.)

Advocates from Restore Hetch Hetchy came down to LA and brought a film festival together at AFI two weeks ago. They noted that Los Angeles responded to statewide public pressure (and litigation) and pulled together to save Mono Lake, and that we’ve successfully held steady our total water consumption rates despite population growth. Thanks for the nod, Bay Area peeps! They are hoping that Angelenos will take an interest and step up public opinion to remove the dam at Hetch Hetchy – and after being ribbed over the years about how LA is “stealing all the water” how many times? I’m sure we’re willing to oblige for a good cause.

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§ 3 Responses to Speaking up for Hetch Hetchy Valley

  • charlie says:

    I always laugh at the hypocrisy when people from San Francisco complain about LA ‘stealing their water’. LA has stolen a lot of water, but never from SF.

    Hetch Hetchy won’t ever get restored with the water situation the way it is, though. Even if dams aren’t really all that necessary, we are stuck with them for now. Maybe if we could get beavers established in the watershed….

  • Jessica Hall says:

    It’s true dams are political and politicos seem more vested in raising them right now instead of razing them. At the AFI event, Mark pointed out that even just keeping the valves open so the flows go through will begin the process of regeneration of the valley. It’s not a salmon run, so the connectivity there is less of an issue, and actual removal of the dam can be done over time.

    As someone who wants to daylight streams in urbanized LA, I can appreciate their passion for a politically difficult cause – and value the relevance of it. I’m definitely putting their bumper sticker on my car!

  • Brent says:

    The news segment has some nice historical photographs of what Hetch Hetchy used to be like and refers viewers to this URL:


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