Come November, San Francisco voters will get a chance to start a process that could result in the draining of the reservoir that now fills the Hetch Hetchy Valley of Yosemite National Park.
The San Franciso Department of Elections late last week approved the petition drive by the Yosemite Restoration Campaign to place on the ballot a measure that, if approved, would require San Francisco to develop a long-term plan to reform its water system.
The measure, known as the Water Conservation & Yosemite Restoration Initiative would require the city to develop a long-term plan to increase local water supplies, recycle more water, and reverse environmental damages caused by the system over the last 100 years.
The measure qualified for the ballot after the campaign submitted 15,836 signatures of San Francisco residents to the Department of Elections; 9,702 valid signatures were required.
"We have successfully crossed the first hurdle on the way to the creation of a 21st century water plan for San Francisco," Mike Marshall, leader of the campaign, said in a statement. "The next hurdle will be to ensure that voters aren't fooled by the intense misinformation campaign being waged by those who support the environmentally-damaging status quo."
If passed, the measure would:
* Require San Francisco to create a water conservation task force
* Require the task force to present a plan to voters for greater water conservation and restoration of Yosemite National Park
* Give voters approval power over any recommendations through a charter amendment that will appear on the November, 2016 ballot.
"Contrary to recent reports by some local media outlets, passage of the ballot measure this November will not change San Francisco's water system, will not drain any of the nine reservoirs in the system, will not affect San Francisco’s right to water from the Tuolumne River, which is the primary source of San Francisco’s water supply, and will not cost billions of dollars," Mr. Marshall said.
"What it will do is create a plan to move San Francisco from last place to first place in responsible water management, and to end the environmental damage that our current, outdated water system is causing every day to Yosemite National Park. It’s just a plan -- nothing more, nothing less."
The Water Conservation & Yosemite Restoration Initiative is endorsed by the National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Nevada Alliance, Foothill Conservancy, Forest Issues Group, Friends of the River, California Water Impact Network, EcoEquity, Endangered Species Coalition, and the Planning and Conservation League. In addition, it is supported by three former superintendents of Yosemite National Park, two former Secretaries of Water Resources for the State of California, two former executive directors of the Sierra Club and Rev. Sally Bingham, Environmental Canon, Episcopal Archdiocese of California.