We are always pleased when elected officials openly discuss the legacy and potential restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Congressman Devin Nunes has recently brought Hetch Hetchy into the broader statewide water discussion at least three times - on Ray Appleton's radio show (August 13), at a Department of the Interior hearing ( September 30) and most recently from the floor of Congress (October 15). For a video of this recent speech, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/
While we are sympathetic to Mr. Nunes concerns for the acute water supply needs of the farms along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, we certainly do not support his call for suspension of the Endangered Species Act. We hope that efforts underway in Sacramento and Washington DC are able to improve both the beleaguered fisheries in the Bay-Delta and Central Valley watershed and the water reliability for California's cities and farms.
The amount of water at stake if Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is drained is very small compared to that within the Delta debate. Modeling studies show that, if Hetch Hetchy Reservoir were drained, more than 95% of the water currently delivered to the Bay Area from the Tuolumne River would still be available using minor new conveyance fixes and other SFPUC reservoirs. Replacing the remaining 5% of the water supply and about one fifth of the system's hydropower, however, would require not only additional investment but also a level of cooperation between parties that has been elusive to date.
We are encouraged that agencies and communities from throughout the State are working on comprehensive legislation to address the problems in the Bay-Delta, and hope that that spirit will extend to the opportunity to restore Hetch Hetchy Valley as well.