When San Francisco voters head to the polls in a few weeks, they’ll be weighing in on one of California’s oldest environmental battles. A large part of San Francisco’s water supply is stored inside a national park – in a reservoir built in Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley.
Environmentalists all the way back to John Muir have called on the city to store its water elsewhere so the valley can be restored. A November ballot measure would require the city to develop a plan to do that. But the battle over Hetch Hetchy is just as fierce today as it was a century ago.
It’s evident when you drive up to the entrance booth in Yosemite National Park on your way to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The ranger hands you a brochure from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission that reads: “20th century engineering marvel. Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is the keystone of this clean, efficient water and power delivery system.”