Arguments in Favor of Restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley

By Ron Good, Chair, Sierra Club Northern California/Nevada Regional Conservation Committee, Hetch Hetchy Task Force

Hetch Hetchy in 1977 drought

The fundamental arguments in favor of restoring Hetch Hetchy valley:

  1. to restore the integrity of the National Park System. Never before has a national park been "invaded" in this manner, to provide for the water and electrical "needs" of a municipality;
  2. to restore the ecological and biological integrity of Hetch Hetchy Valley -- for wildlife (flora and fauna);
  3. to restore the aesthetic beauty of Hetch Hetchy Valley -- described by John Muir and a host of others as incredibly "comparable" to Yosemite Valley itself;
  4. to provide a growing population with another high-quality outdoor experience.

Those advocating the restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley must, of course, take into account modern day "realities" -- that the City of San Francisco and other Bay-area communities rely on water and electrical power from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir system. The Don Pedro reservoir, downstream from Hetch Hetchy, on the Tuolumne River, currently has the capacity to hold ALL the water in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Water quality issues would have to be addressed if Hetch Hetchy water were put into the Don Pedro reservoir, of course. Other reservoirs are potential "holding tanks" for water for the San Francisco Bay area.

Electrical power generation revenues could continue to flow with some re-engineering at Don Pedro and other existing reservoirs. Inevitably, however, some electrical power generation revenues could be lost. However, some of these revenues could be made up by contractual agreements with the National Park Service (giving new revenues from HH concessionaire and entrance fees to San Francisco, in exchange for lost revenues from electrical power generation).

At this point, we can begin to address this issue by asking our elected representatives, and candidates, this question:

As an elected representative, will you enter into good faith negotiations with relevant governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations regarding the restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley and the continued provision of adequate safe drinking water and electrical power generation for the City of San Francisco?
For more information, contact Rod Good at:

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