Guest blogger: Loving Yosemite means many things

From Spreck Rosekrans, Executive Director of Hetch Hetchy:

El Capitan Wikimedia“For many of us, loving Yosemite means loving the whole park and therefore restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley to its former glory. And restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley means developing a practical water system solution for San Francisco and its Bay Area customers. So Restore Hetch Hetchy loves a reliable water system as well.

We have always emphasized that San Francisco can and should continue diversions of high quality Tuolumne River water. We just don’t want the city to store the water within the boundaries of Yosemite. Analysis indicates that 95% of the Tuolumne River supplies now diverted to San Francisco would still be available after Hetch Hetchy Valley is restored.

So we are scratching our heads over the latest revelation that another critical piece of San Francisco’s infrastructure is at risk. As the SF Examiner reports, the Mountain Tunnel could collapse and is in need of a $M 628 repair. The Mountain Tunnel is one of five principal tunnels through which Tuolumne River diversions flow enroute from the Sierra to the Bay Area (see diagram). 

Restore Hetch Hetchy supports repair of this critical infrastructure – as we did a decade ago when the Irvington Tunnel was shown to be at risk.  But we also question whether this latest revelation is yet another reason why San Francisco (as well as other urban communities) should question the wisdom of relying on a single remote source for the majority of its water. Last summer’s “Rim Fire” made us ask the same question.

Diversity is reliability. Water systems of the future will increasingly develop local supplies – by better managing groundwater, recycling wastewater, capturing storm water and storing supplies closer to their customers.

We hope San Francisco will soon support restoration of Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley, and diversify its system as well to increase reliability. But meanwhile, we support a timely and cost-effective solution to the problems with the Mountain Tunnel.

Spreck Rosekrans is Executive Director of Restore Hetch Hetchy   

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