2012 already is going to be interesting election year, what with the presidential election, but in San Francisco the election could prove even more intriguing as voters might have a chance to vote on the future of the Hetch-Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.
On Monday, City Hall officials were presented with nearly 16,000 signatures on a petition to place an initiative on the November election ballot to prompt city leaders to be more environmentally conscious with their water resources.
The Water Conservation and Yosemite Restoration Initiative would require the city to create a comprehensive plan to move San Francisco from last in the state to first in the nation in water sustainability and to allow Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to be restored. Before any actions could be taken, voters would have to vote to approve this plan in November 2016.
Former California Department of Resources Secretary Huey Johnson calls the initiative “long overdue."
“Over the last three months, more than 15,000 people signed this petition because they agree it’s time for San Francisco to take this long-overdue first step towards planning San Francisco’s water future,” Mr. Johnson said Monday as the petition was presented to City Hall.
The Department of Elections now has 30 days to review the signatures and verify that at least 9,702 of the signatures are from currently registered San Francisco voters.
“The decision before San Francisco voters on this initiative this November is simple – if we waste less water we can save a national park,” said Mike Marshall, campaign director for the Yosemite Restoration Campaign. “This is an exciting day for San Francisco because enough people signed this petition to give the voters a chance to improve San Francisco’s water conservation and recycling and restore a valuable national park.”
Since the 1923 damming of the Tuolumne River to create a reservoir for San Francisco in Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite, San Francisco's water system has destroyed habitat, decimated the river's salmon population, and polluted the San Francisco Bay, according to Restore Hetch Hetchy.
Currently, San Francisco does not recycle any water, whereas Orange County recycles 92 million gallons a day, the group said in a release. By capturing more rainfall, recycling water, and recharging and drawing water from its groundwater basin, the city can reduce its reliance on imported water and better prepare for droughts and other threats.