Should the Hetch Hetchy Valley of Yosemite National Park be drained of its reservoir and restored?
On its face, that's a pretty easy question to answer. Of course! No landscape as exquisite as that within Hetch Hetchy that lies within a national park should be flooded.
Here's part of what John Muir had to say in his fight against the O'Shaughnessy Dam that created the reservoir:
Hetch Hetchy Valley, far from being a plain, common, rock-bound meadow, as many who have not seen it seem to suppose, is a grand landscape garden, one of Nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples. As in Yosemite, the sublime rocks of its walls seem to glow with life, whether leaning back in repose or standing erect in thoughtful attitudes, giving welcome to storms and calms alike, their brows in the sky, their feet set in the groves and gay flowery meadows, while birds, bees, and butterflies help the river and waterfalls to stir all the air into music—things frail and fleeting and types of permanence meeting here and blending, just as they do in Yosemite, to draw her lovers into close and confiding communion with her.
Sad to say, this most precious and sublime feature of the Yosemite National Park, one of the greatest of all our natural resources for the uplifting joy and peace and health of the people, is in danger of being dammed and made into a reservoir to help supply San Francisco with water and light, thus flooding it from wall to wall and burying its gardens and groves one or two hundred feet deep. ....
(You can read his entire screed here.)
Of course, the nitty gritty is in the details as they say. Perhaps the biggest detail (not to minimize the objections of some San Franciscoans who worry about their water source), is the sheer cost of draining and restoring the valley. Cost estimates have ranged anywhere from $1 billion to $10 billion.
Now, 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. An initiative on the election ballot would, if passed:
* 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.
So, what say thee? If you lived in San Francisco, would you push to see the valley restored?