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New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch Hetchy

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New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch Hetchy

Postby rlown » Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:25 am

From: http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2015/04/27/new ... tch-hetchy


Activists have launched a new round in their long-running campaign to restore Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to its natural condition by draining the reservoir that serves San Francisco and most of the Peninsula.

In a lawsuit filed last week in Tuolumne County (embedded below), the group Restore Hetch Hetchy renews arguments that featured prominently in a 2012 San Francisco ballot campaign — namely, that the water supply from the San Francisco’s Sierra Nevada reservoir can be readily and relatively cheaply replaced by altering management of the Tuolumne River.

San Francisco officials, who have opposed studying the idea of emptying Hetch Hetchy, say the suit is “baseless” and that even suggesting draining the reservoir as the state contends with a severe drought is “outrageous” and “crazy.”

The lawsuit alleges that Hetch Hetchy violates a 1928 provision of the California Constitution that requires the “beneficial and reasonable” use of the state’s water. The action points to later interpretations of the provision, Article X, Section 2, which have held that “the public interest requires that there be the greatest number of beneficial uses which the supply [of water] can yield.

The suit says San Francisco’s use of a swath of Yosemite National Park fails to do that:

[The city has] eliminated or seriously impaired the beneficial uses of the Tuolumne River as the river flows through the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Respondents’ method of diverting the Tuolumne River’s waters eliminates important aesthetic, scenic, fish & wildlife habitat, fishing, recreational, and preservational beneficial uses in furtherance of water supply storage for remote cities and replaceable electric power production.
The suit also says the city’s water project robs Yosemite visitors “of the wonder that would be experienced by millions … journeying to view Hetch Hetchy Valley’s sublime landscape.”

The suit uses an approach similar to the one Restore Hetch Hetchy employed in 2012 as part of its campaign to pass Proposition F in San Francisco. The measure would have required the city to undertake a study of draining Hetch Hetchy and reconfiguring the system that delivers water from the Tuolumne watershed to the city and Peninsula. The suit asks for a court order requiring the city to “prepare an engineering and financing plan for altering” the Hetch Hetchy system.

Prop. F went down to a resounding defeat, with a 77 percent “no vote.”

“This is just another attempt to grab the spotlight on an issue where we’re talking about taking the water supply away for a large part of California,” said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which runs the Hetch Hetchy system.

Jue repeated the city’s talking points in fighting the 2012 ballot measure: the Hetch Hetchy system is efficient, it delivers pure mountain water and does it inexpensively while producing clean hydroelectric power. As city officials have said for years, he added that the cost of restoring Hetch Hetchy would be prohibitive.

“It was estimated to be between three and ten billion dollars in investment to remove Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and restore the valley,” Jue said. “And if you put that cost on each customer, that’s a range of approximately 550 dollars per year to two thousand dollars per year is San Franciscans were to have to pay that cost.”

But the lawsuit argues that a restored Hetch Hetchy Valley would become a magnet for visitors and become an economic engine generating as much as $8.7 billion in recreational benefits to visitors and local businesses for the first half-century after restoration.

“We intend to show that the value of a restored valley is greater than the cost of restoring it,” said Spreck Rosekrans, Restore Hetch Hetchy’s executive director.

And Rosekrans said the process of restoration would itself be a magnet for future visitors.

“You would have tourists going to see this marvelous place almost immediately,” he said. “People would come back every five years, every 10 years with their families, with their kids, and it would be a really incredible thing to watch this valley come back to life.”



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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby LMBSGV » Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:21 pm

While I would love to see the dam go and Hetch Hetchy restored, lawsuits like this only waste a great deal of time and money and will probably end up further discrediting Restore Hetch Hetchy (after their bungling of Prop. F in 2012) and thus do more harm than good for their cause.
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby rlown » Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:23 pm

couldn't agree more. just put it out there. :)
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby WarrenFork » Sat May 09, 2015 10:08 pm

I favor restoring Yosemite Valley to its natural state before tackling Hetch Hetchy. It would be cheaper, faster, and uncontroversial as far as impacting San Francisco's water supply.

The 1971 Master Plan for the park called for the elimination of the private auto from the Valley as well as the removal of most accommodations apart from campsites. When MCA took over YP&C Co. they used their political influence to force the Park Service to scuttle it. I was part of a group called Friends of Yosemite that helped stifle MCA's alternate plans to build still more and pave still more.

In those days it seemed there might be hope for a return to progressive management policies. Forty years later, not so much.
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby longri » Sun May 10, 2015 6:40 pm

Great timing these folks have, suggesting removal of a dam in the midst of what may be a 1000 year drought event. Good luck with that one.

WarrenFork wrote:The 1971 Master Plan for the park called for the elimination of the private auto from the Valley as well as the removal of most accommodations apart from campsites.

The 1971 plan is often quoted as if Moses brought it down from the mountain. No cars or hotels sounds good, but I've always wondered what exactly was in that plan. I've tried to find details on the web a few times but came up empty. It's sort of a moot point now, but I'm curious.
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby markskor » Sun May 10, 2015 7:44 pm

The 1971 plan? Wasn't that the Disney inspired plan (I recall they tried to get the Curry contract way back then), a itinerary that had an e-ticket monorail train, anchored in the granite walls, circling about 1000 feet above the Valley floor, and a gondola ride reaching to the top of Half Dome?
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby Tom_H » Mon May 11, 2015 10:43 am

I know this is a wild idea and would be full of controversy, but I just wonder how many people would go for it. My thought is for a swap. Tear down Hetch Hetchy dam in exchange for building the Auburn High Dam. Caveats: Environmentalists would be fully responsible for paying for deconstructing HH Dam and restoring the valley. Developers and utility companies would be fully responsible to pay for AHD. A large mix of recreation would have to be included. AHD would have to be ultra strong with numerous safeguards due to the fault. The water authorities would have to make sure SF got the water it needs through exchanges. Some of SF's water would come from a new desalination plant. Sacramento has more flood danger than New Orleans; AHD would give Sacratomato the flood prevention control it needs.

With politics and interest groups the way they are, I seriously doubt they'd all ever agree to this. I just wonder how many of you would be for it, if all the caveats I mentioned were met????
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby rlown » Mon May 11, 2015 11:00 am

source: http://blogs.kqed.org/science/2014/04/3 ... -wont-die/

I know this is old data, but i tend to trust kqed (a public station) more than other sources

Anyway, from the article a year ago:

The latest revival occurred at a recent show-and-tell for the new spillway under construction at Folsom Dam. Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Auburn, seized the occasion — not so much for congratulations — but to decry recent releases of water from dams on the American River.

“It infuriates me that for the past three days, we have seen releases of water out of dams on the American River triple in order to meet environmental regulations that place the interests of fish above those of human beings.”

The congressman then pivoted and called for completion of Auburn Dam, a long-stagnant project on the North Fork of the American River originally green-lighted by Congress in 1965, near the end of what the late writer Marc Reisner called the “go-go years” of American dam building. McClintock’s colleague from across the aisle, Sacramento Democrat Doris Matsui, sat nearby, literally shaking her head.

McClintock told the assembled dignitaries that a brimming Auburn Lake reservoir upstream, “could fill and refill Folsom Lake nearly 2 1/2 times.” The current drought has left Folsom Lake at alarmingly low levels this spring.

Indeed, the project, designed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, would create one of the state’s biggest reservoirs, with a capacity of more than 2 million acre-feet of water, about half the volume of Shasta Lake.

Then McClintock took aim at Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to construct bypass tunnels to carry water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“Even with the inflated costs we’re seeing today,” said McClintock, “[the dam project] could be done for much less than the current proposal to build a cross-Delta facility that produces zero additional water storage.” (According to Reclamation, there hasn’t been a reliable cost update on the project since 2006.)

He went on to extoll other potential advantages, such as, “power for a million homes” and “a major new recreational resource for our region.”


More at the article including pics.

If it were me, I would build more dams and manage the flows better. I would just open the floodgates to Hetch Hetchy dam and let her stay as a monument as to what not to do in a National Park!
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon May 11, 2015 6:43 pm

I still laugh at their claimed cost of doing this. So lets see if I under stand right. It cost 1.5 Billion dollars to build this:

Image

But it costs 10 billion to remove this:

Image
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby Tom_H » Tue May 12, 2015 8:39 am

rlown wrote:I would just open the floodgates to Hetch Hetchy dam and let her stay as a monument as to what not to do in a National Park!


Not sure about HH. Many reservoirs have a dead pool level. IOW, the drain gate is higher than the bottom of the lake. Open it completely and the water drains most of the way, but leaves a stagnant muddy pool at the bottom.
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby rlown » Tue May 12, 2015 12:55 pm

well, Rogue... umm... unions cost 10 billion.. Not a fan; depends on how you look at the solution. Could just fix the drain gate problem that Tom pointed to to drain it and drop the water downstream. They still get their water as it drops into another reservoir. SF seems to have a vote here. A big one.

for history sake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Shaugh ... ifornia%29
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Re: New Lawsuit Seeks to Force SF to Drain, Restore Hetch He

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue May 12, 2015 6:38 pm

Well sure it's a national park which means prevailing wage rates if your union or not which puts the average worker at 30-50 dollars an hour. 50 dollars an hour X 100 million man hours is 5 billion dollars. 100 million man hours is over 500,000 years of a single man making 50 dollars an hour or 1000 workers for 500 years and of course that is 24 hours a day 365. So putting all that in perspective should show that labor costs will never drive something into the billions unless we are talking about tens of thousands of workers.
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