Hetch Hetchy, reservoir or valley 100 years from now?

There’s a move afoot to launch a massive project to drain Hetch Hetchy valley and restore to California “a second Yosemite”.


San Francisco mayor Ed Lee is not impressed by the idea.

“As insane as this is, it is, in fact, insane,” Lee said at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Lee also warned the business community to avoid anyone trying to “rope you into some masked discussion about water sustainability.” The mayor described San Francisco’s water as the “cleanest” and the dam as creating one of the “strongest clean hydroelectric sources” of power.”

I made a few comments to the mayor on Twitter, but received no reply:

@mayoredlee Concerned that you seem to be speaking against not only draining Hetch Hetchy, but also sustainability efforts accompanying that. Why don’t we recycle water & use storm/ground water? Why not river power generation rather than dam? Those aren’t “insane”. Maybe it would take us 50 years, but a second Yosemite could be SF’s moon program; deeply inspiring; a scientific celebration.

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Dinah from Kabalor

Author. Discardian. GM. Current project: creating an inclusive indie fantasy ttrpg https://www.patreon.com/kabalor

4 thoughts on “Hetch Hetchy, reservoir or valley 100 years from now?”

  1. Nobody likes being tricked, and that’s exactly what the Restore Hetch Hetchy folks are trying to do. They’ve constructed a campaign to guilt San Francisco (the most efficient water users in California) into thinking that they could drain their own reservoir if they would only pass this conservation measure. Truth is, the measure calls for things San Francisco is already doing: two water recycling facilities are already under construction. Even with those online however, water recycling could never replace Hetch Hetchy because, in the end, you can’t recycle what you don’t use.


  2. Hmm, my impression is that they’re talking about shifting the reservoir functions to other locations along the route to San Francisco as well as finding ways to require less water be transported to the city from elsewhere.
    Conservation of water is definitely part of the picture; what you don’t use, you don’t need a source for.
    Note: The Westside recycling facility is in environmental review and not due to start construction until after Thanksgiving 2015. Eastside is in planning review and not scheduled to start construction until 2014.


  3. Adrian:
    Nobody is trying to trick anybody.
    This is a planning measure. Recycling is only one part of it. The changes necessary to replace a fairly small amount of water are minor compared to what other urban and agricultural communities in California have done to improve their environmental performance.
    One a plan is complete, voters will have the chance to determine whether they want to pursue it.
    Anyone with questions about water or power replacement options should fee free to contact me (spreck@hetchhetchy.org)
    Spreck Rosekrans
    Director of Policy
    Restore Hetch Hetchy


  4. One thing I will say regarding “tricking” is that I did come away with a the impression from the video and the website that the city wasn’t doing water recycling—and that my leaving with that impression seems to have been intentional—so when I found out that there were not one but two SF water recycling plants already well into their construction process (which includes planning), my opinion of Restore Hetch Hetchy took a negative hit.
    Far better to acknowledge the work that has been done and to place this plan in context with it.


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