A day that's been 98 years in the making....

This might be off the topic of liberty, but interesting nevertheless. It was addressed to the LPSF chair.
I don't see why the water couldn't be collected in a small ddiversion structure and larger reservoirs constructed near the city to store the water in equal volume to that behind hetch tetchy.
Of course , who will pay., but this goes to the heart of the issue of who owns natural wonders.


I agree this is interesting, Phil, and I don't see it as off topic. The future of Hetch Hetchy is a public policy issue concerning San Francisco. One approach might be to let voluntary groups (e.g. the Sierra Club) fund and build reservoirs or diversion structures on public land to store Hetch Hetchy water for the city.

  This would create a clear path to draining Hetch Hetchy -- something that doesn't exist now -- and do it without any expense to the taxpayers. One could imagine a big Hetch Hetchy project on Kickstarter.com for instance, organized by an alliance of conservation groups. Each dollar donated could pay for a fixed amount of water to be taken out of the reservoir behind O'Shaughnessy Dam and stored elsewhere.

Love & Liberty,
                                ((( starchild )))

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No! Draining Hetch Hetchy is a really dumb idea that comes up every decade or so. California needs more water capture, not less. We are drinking the Hetch Hetchy water down here in San Mateo, too, as are cities all around the Bay Area.

Even if you emptied the reservoir, another Yosemite Valley is no longer underneath. It is barren; it would be a dry lake bed. It would take 100 years for huggable trees to regrow. Right now, there is a beautiful mountain lake. What is wrong with that?

There already are "larger reservoirs" near the City. The sprawling Crystal Springs Reservoir, currently used in addition to Hetch Hetchy, holds only 70 million cubic meters as opposed to Hetch Hetchy holding 440 million cubic meters. All the good spots for reservoirs were already dammed, (of course), before the monumental Hetch Hetchy project was begun. A valley in the Sierras, like Hetch Hetchy, is ideal for storing water. It should be deep and have a narrow outlet to dam. Evaporation loss is minimal from a deep reservoir. The water, from melting snow, is very clean, (although the Feds say it will have to be filtered, anyway).

California has many political issues over water. Much of the allocation is cronyism if not actually corrupt. Payment for the water is politically controlled, not market-driven. Tearing down Hetch Hetchy is more of a diversion from the real water issues than a sensible plan to improve California.

Harland Harrison

Sounds like spending money to fix something that is not broken. And BTW on whose backyard are you all planning to build the substitute reservoirs?


Well, you might look at it this way -- would you rather give people who want Hetch Hetchy drained the opportunity to fund and execute the project themselves now, or take the chance that they will later convince government officials to do it at taxpayer expense? From proponents' point of view, they might prefer giving up the possibility of government subsidies for the project in order to win enough new allies to get things moving now, than to run the risk that it never gets done, or at least not in their lifetimes.

  Sure if the lake was drained it would take a while for the area to become "old growth" forest, but I think you underestimate how fast nature can repair an area like that. I predict it would look healthy within a few years and little distinguishable from other alpine areas without large old trees.

  I can't argue with what you say Harland about the location being good for a reservoir in strictly practical terms, but if providing equally effective replacement means for storing the water (e.g. manmade reservoir tanks on public land made available for that purpose to the groups conducting the project) were a condition of draining the lake, I guess I don't see the problem. My impression has not been that the Hetch Hetchy idea comes up every decade or so, but rather that the idea of restoring the valley has never really gone away, and never is likely to fully go away as long as the dam is there.

Love & Liberty,
                                   ((( starchild )))

I forgot to mention that as I recall representatives from the "Restore Hetch Hetchy" have visited LPSF meetings at least twice; also as I recall there was no enthusiastic response from those present at the meeting. But these folks keep trying, and Starchild is correct that they will probably not go away.

The "Restore Hetch Hetchy" website is an interesting read (Googling will get you there). The plan seems to be to use private funds to drain the dam (the first of many targeted?), but apparently leave it to the taxpayers to make up the replacement facilities. Here is a good quote:

"Facilities to make up the missing 4% of average supply can come from a variety of sources. These should be developed in co-operation with the SFPUC and its customers."