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October 15, 2002

A Worthy Project

You have to have been overwhelmed by the beauty of Yosemite to understand the dismay of environmentalists that an equally beautiful valley was flooded decades ago to serve as a reservoir. Now, a group of environmentalists are seeking to drain the water to regain the Hetch Hetchy Valley, what John Muir once described as a "grand landscape garden, one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples." Bravo on the work.

Update: Madhatter asked in comments "will San Francisco be willing to pay 10x as much for water shipped in from elsewhere?" Aside from the probably inflated estimate, note that the decidely unradical Reagan Interior Secretary Don Hodel supports the idea and points to the hypocrisy of supposedly liberal San Francisco. "They are known to champion environmental causes, he said, but seem blind to the destructiveness of their own water policies."

This was one thing that drove me crazy when I lived in the Bay Area. Folks talked a good game about the environment, but couldn't get their act together to create a decent mass transit system. Places like Berkeley so fiercely opposed new development locally to avoid density that they helped drive sprawl far into previously undeveloped areas to their east.

Posted by Nathan at October 15, 2002 12:55 AM

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Yes, but will San Francisco be willing to pay 10x as much for water shipped in from elsewhere?

Posted by: madhatter at October 15, 2002 09:15 AM

The damage (at Hetch hetchy) was done in 1913 or so. How long (just out of curiosity) would it take for the valley to restore itself to what Muir saw? Don Hodel noted that San Francisco was unlikely to ever vote republican and so looked to screw them. If you are proposing that we reform water policy in california in its entirety (so we stop, for example, subsidising growing rice in deserts), Hetch Hetchy can be part of the solution. Absent that, it is just political aprticanship.

Posted by: David Margolies at October 15, 2002 05:48 PM

Sure it should be part of reforming overall water policy in the state, but if Alaskans have to foresake jobs to preserve the Artice National Wildlife Preserve, San Franciscans should be willing to deal with the hassles of remaking their water supply system to regain a natural gem.

If the GOP wants to score points against liberals by demanding more national parks -- more power to them. That's the kind of partisan competition I love.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at October 15, 2002 05:58 PM

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