Hetch Hetchy Valley: A Mixed Vision
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom brought the debate over restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley to the top of the O'Shaughnessy Dam on Thursday.
Here, in the splendor of the Sierra, he called the idea of knocking down the city-owned dam -- an idea championed by some environmentalists -- a "grand vision," but a short-sighted one.
If the draining of Hetch Hetchy were realized, he said, the pristine water supply used by 2.4 million Bay Area customers would be jeopardized, and the city's control over its own future would be weakened.
"The idea of tearing down this dam is a serious concern to me," Newsom said during a tour of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which supplies 85 percent of the water used by San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties and is at the heart of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's water and power system.
"The idea of competing and sharing resources with other parts of the state takes away the ability and the autonomy for San Francisco to carry its own fate into the future," he said.
The mayor, who helicoptered into and out of Yosemite, spent a half day in the park touring the city's Hetch Hetchy water and power facilities. The tour provided a picture-perfect backdrop for the mayor to talk about the efforts under way to secure the system from terrorism and earthquakes, and to reiterate the city's concerns about the push to restore Hetch Hetchy Valley, which was submerged beneath hundreds of feet of water when the dam went up in 1923.