Big Battle Over Hetch Hetchy Looming In The Near Future

In Restore Hetch Hetchy

SF Gate: “The debate over the proposal to breach the Sierra’s O’Shaughnessy Dam, drain the reservoir behind it and restore Hetch Hetchy Valley to its former natural splendor is apt to intensify this summer with the release of a California Department of Water Resources study on the issue.

But preliminary comments from the agency indicate two things:

First, the restoration is technically possible without disrupting water supplies to San Francisco, Modesto and Turlock, the cities that are the beneficiaries of Hetch Hetchy water.

Second, it will cost a lot of money: From $4 billion to $8 billion, depending on whom you talk to.

‘Regardless of what you do in terms of restoration, it will be expensive, ‘ said Gary Bardini, the Hetch Hetchy project manager for the Department of Water Resources.

‘People who want to restore the valley tend to pick the low end, and those against it favor the high end,’ said Larry Weis, the general manager of the Turlock Irrigation District. ‘So it might be wise to pick a figure in the middle.’

For the Hetch Hetchy restoration true believers, Bardini said, ‘money isn’t the issue, of course. The prospect of restoring the valley is what matters. But then there are going to be other people who say, ‘Why make this investment when we already have a perfectly good (water delivery) infrastructure?’ So it’s hard to say how it will play out.'”

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