Monday, October 26, 2009

Congressman Nunes and Hetch Hetchy

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/RepDevinNunes#p/u/3/v4myZw0K0XU


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.

42 comments:

  1. Normally I loathe people who want to rip out dams, but here you have a point. Yosemite IS a National Park, after all.

    How about this trade off: Hetch Hetchy Dam is torn down AFTER:

    (1) Auburn Dam is built.

    (2) The North Coast rivers (Eel, Mad, Hayfork, Van Duzen, southern forks of the Trinity) are dammed and diverted. In a state prone to alternating cycles of drought and flood, and badly in need of clean renewable hydroelectric power, anyone who gets mushy about a "wild and scenic river" needs a mental examination and then commitment to the Agnews, Atascadero, Napa, or Patton State Mental Hospitals. Yes, this can be done without flooding out the Round Valley Indian Reservation (the fatal flaw in the original Dos Rios project plan), and yes, enough flow can be left over and hatcheries can be created for the salmon and other fishies.

    (3) At least 260 base-load megawatts of electricity are generated from (1) and (2) above, and double that peak-load, making up for the lost Hetch Hetchy hydropower. If not, redesigning and rebuilding the Rancho Seco nuclear power station could make up the difference.

    (4) Additional San Luis type storage reservoirs are built. (Orestimba and Panoche canyons)

    (5) any necessary water storage dams on the Tuolumne River downstream from Hetch Hetchy are built below the National Park (Poopenaut Valley, or anywhere else upstream from Lake Don Pedro)

    (6) The number of Yosemite Valley campsites are restored to 1960’s levels, and finally

    (7) The restored Hetch Hetchy Valley gets an equivalent number of campsites! Seriously, what good is a national park if hardly anyone can ever enjoy it?

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