Jul 31, 2018

U.S. Interior Secretary Zinke Meets With Restore Hetch Hetchy

Zinke met with the environmental group in favor of draining the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, a major drinking water source for San Francisco

Secretary Zinke meets with advocates to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
Secretary Zinke meets with advocates to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

On July 22, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with members of Restore Hetch Hetchy, an environmental group that advocates for draining the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and removing the O’Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite National Park, Calif. The move has been met with controversy, as the reservoir provides drinking water to 2.7 million people and meets more than 90% of the San Francisco area’s water demand.

Restore Hetch Hetchy argues the reservoir should be removed and the valley restored to its natural state because the reservoir rests in a national park. While 77% on San Franciscans voted against funding exploratory studies on the topic in 2012, Zinke appears to be considering the idea. Following his meeting, he tweeted that he was, “taking a fresh look at different opportunities and options to restore public access and recreation to the valley,” as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Critics of the proposal to drain the 117 billion gal reservoir argue the state would face complications from water shortages, as well as electricity.

“It would be extremely costly and we would lose all the energy efficiency out of it,” said Steven Ritchie, assistant general manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “That would be really costly to all our ratepayers, with limited benefits.