Hetch Hetchy

This Sacramento Bee editorial is correct that the Hetch Hetchy Valley will eventually be restored by tearing down the dam; it is just too good an idea, just as we know that someday the Auburn Dam will be built, its just too good an idea.

Sometimes it makes sense to tear down a dam that holds water submerging a valley legendary for its beauty when replacement water is easily available; just as it makes sense to construct a dam to submerge a valley hardly anyone would claim is that remarkable while providing the capitol of California with a 400-500 year level of flood protection.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“Fear-mongering wafts like a fog from San Francisco whenever the subject turns to restoring Hetch Hetchy, the valley in Yosemite National Park that is submerged by San Francisco’s water supply.

“Supporters of restoration have submitted more than 16,000 signatures for a ballot measure that would let San Francisco voters decide if they want to study alternative sources of water and power for the city. That way, the canyon that John Muir once called “the twin” of Yosemite Valley could be restored for the benefit of future generations.

“Mind you, the ballot measure wouldn’t determine if Hetch Hetchy were drained or not. That would require a subsequent ballot measure, possibly in 2016. The current measure, if approved, would merely require the city to develop a long-term water conservation plan and come up with a plan for restoring Hetch Hetchy.

“Yet even that prospect sounds apocalyptic to some San Francisco leaders.

“Insane,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

“Dangerous,” intoned an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Really? What is so dangerous about examining how to restore a valley in one of our nation’s most prized and popular national parks?

“Leaders of the keep-Yosemite- submerged crowd have two lines of argument against even studying this idea.

The first is the cost. “This issue has already been studied ad nauseam,” said the Chronicle. “Draining the valley would be incredibly expensive – between $3 billion and $10 billion, according to a 2006 state Department of Water Resources study.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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