San Francisco Hetch Hetchy Reservoir Initiative, Proposition F (November 2012)
What the measure will do if it is approved is a subject that supporters and opponents do not agree on. Supporters say it will "restore" the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Opponents say it will "drain Hetch Hetchy."
The city's Ballot Simplification Committee held a hearing in early August to deliberate about how to describe the measure in its official ballot text. The language they chose uses the phrase "drain Hetch Hetchy" four times. Supporters of the measure plan to file a lawsuit to stop the city from using that language in the official ballot text. They say, "We believe these changes create a political bias against the measure, do not accurately reflect the language of the initiative, and mislead voters."
However, some aspects of what the measure would do are not in dispute. These include:
- It would require the city to spend up to $8 million on a study about whether to shut down the reservoir.
A group called "Restore Hetch Hetchy" supports the measure. Mike Marshall is the director of Restore Hetch Hetchy. He also leads the campaign to pass the measure. Marshall says, "The Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park is an American gem. It is one of the most extraordinary ecosystems in the world. Yosemite is one of the crown jewels of our park system, and it deserves to be whole."
- According to the San Francisco Examiner, "there is a united front of elected city officials opposing the measure."
- A group called "Save Hetch Hetchy" opposes the measure.
- Dianne Feinstein says, "The suggestion that San Francisco is not using its water supply efficiently is simply not true. Per person, Bay Area residents use less than half...the state's per-capita average. Hetch Hetchy provides critical water supplies to 2.5 million people and thousands of businesses, and any effort to jeopardize that water supply is simply unacceptable."
About Hetch Hetchy
The O'Shaughnessy Dam was installed in Hetch Hetchy Valley in the second decade of the 20th century to collect water from the Tuolumne River.
The 1913 Raker Act permitted the dam's construction. Under the Raker Act, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is allowed draw water from the reservoir; to do so, it must meet a condition that says the city must "first draw upon their own stored water to the fullest practicable extent."
San Francisco gets 100% of its water from the Hetch Hetchy system. However, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir itself is one of nine reservoirs in the overall network. The network goes from the Sierra Nevada mountains, across the Central Valley and out to the coast. The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, itself, holds approximately 25% of the water capacity of the entire Hetch Hetchy system.
Path to the ballot
The measure earned its spot on the ballot through the collection of signatures on initiative petitions. 9,702 valid signatures were required for qualification purposes, and approximately 16,000 signatures were submitted.