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.

High tea with astronomy break

Turns out the overlap between Gilbert & Sullivan fan & science nerd is pretty high. @lamplightersMT #eclipse


The intermission at the special fundraiser event was extended so everyone could enjoy the eclipse.


Joe under the pinholes created by gaps in the trees’ leaves.


Pinholes in paper.


Pinholes created by gaps in leaves.


Making pinholes with our hands.


Now THAT’s a Sunday walk

As Joe said on Twitter, we had a particularly epic walk today—from Hayes Valley to Sausalito! Ten beautiful, foggy miles.

After bagels at Momi Toby, we strolled in a zigzag fashion over to the southeast corner of the Presidio and on through it. With the cool fog blowing overhead it both sounded and smelled fantastic. I fully expected to emerge at the north edge to find the fog burning off, but it was, if anything even lower and thicker. Above was our view as we went up the hill toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

To our bemusement, the bridge itself was invisible, merely announcing its presence loudly with a foghorn mid-span. We were grinning at the ridiculousness of it as we crossed—finding we could barely see Fort Point when directly above it—and our spirits were mercifully not dampened. It was windy, but it wasn't bitterly cold (as it often can be).


The winds on the Marin side of the bridge cleared the air a little, but we still couldn't see much farther than a city block or two into the distance. The viewpoint there provided us with bathrooms, a refilled water bottle, and fuel for the next stretch of the journey in the form of a churro from a woman walking through the crowd, dispensing fried happiness.

We followed the bike path until it connected to Alexander Avenue and then walked downhill toward Sausalito, feeling the temperature shifting and seeing the visibility lift as we went. We hadn't reached the bottom of the hill before we both shed our hoodies. It was still windy, though, with wisps of fog still trying to fight their way over the hills above us.

We rested briefly again when we reached the bottom, sitting on a nice bench with what must be a glorious view on a really clear day and was still quite fine today. We tried a trick that turned out to work nicely: We each swapped our socks over to the other foot. A tiny change in where the cushion was pressed down from the miles so far, but enough to put a spring back in our step for the walk along that beautiful bayfront promenade.

By the time we'd passed through downtown Sausalito—well-populated with tourists speaking a variety of languages and supported by an equally multi-lingual set of signage—we were feeling the journey. It was only the prospect of that delicious meal at Fish which kept us in steady motion.

The double reward of good food and—praise be!—sitting was accentuated by the beauty of the spot. We often walk from home to our favorite restaurants, but not usually ten miles. Though the journey was a big part of the payoff, this was definitely worth the trip.

It was much more clear, though fog continued to billow over the tops of the hills and through the Golden Gate, but despite the sun started to feel quite chilly to us both. We didn't linger after our meal as long as we'd planned to rest our feet, but instead warmed ourselves off walking back to catch the ferry.

Our timing was great—we made it to the 3:50pm boat with ten minutes to spare, rather than having to wait until 5:30pm—and our quick pace had warmed us up enough to enjoy the view from the outside deck almost all the way back to the San Francisco Ferry Building, where, pleasingly, a #21 bus was waiting nearby to promptly carry us home. A fine day!


Good news and an opportunity for San Franciscans

I'm very relieved that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Budget & Finance Committee has maintained funding for the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team program. This is a wonderful, practical, and free program to train ordinary San Franciscans to stay safe and, where possible, help others in case of disaster. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee the funding will be preserved in the future, so take advantage of the program now while we have it.

Why should you care?

California has a 99.7 percent chance of having a 6.7 magnitude
earthquake or larger during the the next 30 years. The likelihood of a
more powerful quake of 7.5 magnitude in the next 30 years is 46 percent.
Such a quake is more likely to occur in the southern half of the state
than in the northern half. … the probability of a 6.7 magnitude
earthquake or larger over the next 30 years striking the greater Los
Angeles area is 67 percent and in the San Francisco Bay Area is 63
percent [source]

The best way to deal with this threat is to understand what it would mean for you and your household and how you can reduce your risks of being badly hurt during a quake. Take the classes, they're free and interesting. Download the NERT manual and learn how to put together an emergency kit. Get involved with your local team and stack the deck in favor of coming through the next big shakeup unharmed.

San Franciscans, once again, why should you care?

Because we have 17,000 residents per square mile and only about 300 firefighters on duty at any given time. You will need to be self-sufficient, especially in the first three days after a major quake.

It's not hard to be ready, but you do have to start preparing.

Every week, from now until the ground moves, devote a little time – even just a few minutes when you can't take a class or do a bigger safety project in your home – to providing for your future.