Hetch Hetchy project wins approval
Published: December 1, 2005
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A plan to rebuild the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct to better protect against earthquakes and terror attacks won unanimous approval from the city utility agency responsible for ensuring the water system's safety.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved a revised plan to rebuild the 167-mile aqueduct, which starts in Yosemite National Park and ends in the Bay Area, and supplies water to San Francisco and surrounding counties.
The 10-year construction project is expected to cost $4.3 billion and is crucial to assuring the reliability of the region's water supply, officials said. The plan calls for upgrades to pipelines, dams, pump stations and tunnels along the aqueduct.
‘‘This was a real watershed day — sorry for the pun — for the PUC and the 2.4 million people we serve,'' said agency director Susan Leal.
In approving the revised plan, officials scrapped a controversial idea to build a fourth, 47-mile pipeline which would have cost nearly $1 billion. Environmentalists had criticized adding an additional pipeline because it would have increased water consumption out of the Tuolumne River, possibly disrupting wildlife habitat.
Instead, officials gave the go-ahead to an alternative idea that calls for repairing the existing three pipelines and connecting them to a new, less costly 9-mile pipeline.
Leal said the revised plans achieve the same goal of increasing the system's reliability and security at less than half the cost.
San Francisco voters approved a $1.6 billion bond measure three years ago to pay for the Hetch Hetchy upgrades, with the understanding that surrounding communities would pick up the rest of the cost.
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