Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Dam-med If He Does, Dam-med If He Doesn't

My congressman has a great idea, and it syncs with the generally-left-leaning view out here in the West that we need to tear down dams and restore rivers to a more natural setting:
Dan Lungren, a Republican member of Congress from Sacramento County, wants to give the world "a second Yosemite Valley." The valley already exists, in Yosemite National Park - buried under 300 feet of water in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which provides San Franciscans and 1.7 million other Bay Area residents with pristine water straight from the Sierra.

All that would be needed would be to blow up the dam, which Yosemite godfather John Muir fought to his dying breath in 1914. The Schwarzenegger administration in 2006 estimated the cost at $3 billion to $10 billion.

Lungren said Yosemite holds a special spot in his heart, as it is where he met his wife. But his critics, pointing to his zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters, say Lungren's environmental record is anything but romantic.

They suspect that Lungren is taunting San Francisco liberals or positioning himself for a re-election race in a competitive district against Democratic challenger Ami Bera, who touts a " 'smart' and 'green' relationship with the earth"...

The battle over restoring the Hetch Hetchy dates back to the Reagan administration. Democrats have always smelled a GOP stunt that forces Democrats to defend a dam in a national park and lets Republicans quote John Muir about the splendor of mountains...

Harrington (general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission) said he can't debate Lungren's personal attachment to the park. "But let's face it," he said. "Everybody who has ever talked about going after Hetch Hetchy has been conservative Republicans who love to push it in San Francisco's face."
He says that like it's a bad thing :)

On a serious note, I would ask our leftie friends the following: when is it acceptable to tear down a dam, and when is it not?

From links in the article, here's what Hetch Hetchy looks like now, and here's what it looked like before it was dammed (although I assume it appeared in color in real life!).

10 comments:

Jean said...

I had not heard of this before. So is the idea that Bay Area residents want to get rid of dams, except when it's their water supply? OK, I can't help but giggle.

Left Coast Conservative said...

Ask the one other thing: where is the water to replace that which SF gets from Hetch Hetchy going to come from? As much as I dislike dams in the Sierra, California has no water to spare. And if Hetch Hetchy is taken out, will they stop there, or will they target Shasta, Oroville, Don Pedro, and any of the dozens of others in the state?

Darren said...

It was mentioned in the article that Don Pedro, downriver from Hetch Hetchy, could be expanded (the logic of spending money on one demolition to build another dam notwithstanding). I've read in other stories that SF has other sources of water such that it doesn't really need HH, but that wasn't mentioned in this story. What *was* mentioned is that SF has no water recycling, and is only now instituting a couple of programs.

Jean said...

Sure, it's not like we've got extra water around here. I live near Oroville Dam and maybe if we didn't sell half our water to LA we'd have some...

Realistically, if you wanted to get rid of any of the dams, you'd have to either get rid of a lot of Californians or institute a lot of major water-recycling infrastructure first, or both.

Anonymous said...

The water out of of Hetch Hetchy is so clean that SF doesn't have to pay very much to make it potable. The plan (it has been almost six years so my memory is fading) was to reoperate Don Pedro to replace the water supply from Hetch Hetchy. The water rights holders at Don Pedro did NOT like this idea.

Please don't give the enviros anymore ideas about taking down dams. They would love to get rid of Oroville, Shasta and basically any other dam. If they could get rid of agriculture at the same time, it would be a double win.

Unknown said...

In response to the question from Left Coast Conservative about where the replacement water is going to come from --- please read the various studies found under Resources at hetchhetchy.org. The short answer is that the water water will come exactly from where it comes from now -- the Tuoulumne River!!. Engineers are smarter today than they were 100 years ago and they've figured how to divert and store virtually the same amount of water from the river without the need for a reservoir in a National Park. Modeling shows that there would be a slight shortfall in one out of every 5 years. Surely, SF, which admits that it does absolutely no water recycling at all, can make up that shortfall and water its municipal golf courses and Golden Gate Park with recycled water. They owe it to the rest of the country which would like Hetch Hetchy Valley returned to the entire country as a second Yosemite Valley.

socalmike said...

Looking at what happened to Yosemite (traffic, congestion, smog, crowds, trash, etc.), maybe damming Hetch Hetchy saved it.

Ellen K said...

San Francisco libs had absolutely no problem in destroying centuries old orchards in the Central Valley for the sake of a one inch fish that may or may not be part of a critical ecosystem. I would suggest to you that San Franciscans may be an unnecessary invasive species (like Zebra mussels)who would benefit our econsystem by their departure. Remove the dam and see what happens when SF residents have to make do with desalinated water. Yeah, you can drink it, but you don't want to.

PS> How come the enviotypes never mention the one very clean energy resource we have-hydroelectric? It's far more effective and consistent than wind or sun, yet all the "greens" want to do is blow up dams.

Ellen K said...

PS. I find it ironic that Texas seems to have far more water conservation in place than northern California.

David said...

Frankly, my dear, I do need a dam