Restoring John Muir's Hetch Hetchy: Is It Worth It? | KALW

Restoring John Muir's Hetch Hetchy: Is It Worth It?

Aug 8, 2012

It’s been nearly 100 years since Congress authorized the City of San Francisco to build the O’Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite National Park. This is the dam that turned Hetch Hetchy Valley into Hetch Hetchy reservoir, providing water and electricity to San Francisco and surrounding cities. John Muir and a emerging Sierra Club fought against this project proposal for nearly 12 years before Congress passed the Raker Act in 1913, giving San Francisco the authority to build the dam, power generators, and delivery system to the Bay Area.

The Hetch Hetchy Valley was once described by John Muir as “one of Nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples" and one of equal beauty to Yosemite Valley.  And now, in the year 2012, San Francisco voters are being asked to decide whether or not to start a process which will eventually remove the O’Shaughnessy Dam and drain the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in an attempt to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley to its former glory.  What will this project look like?  What about the cost to taxpayers?  And how will this affect the water and power supplied to San Francisco by the Hetch Hetchy System?  


  • Spreck Rosekrans, Director of Policy of Restore Hetch Hetchy
  • Matt Regan, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations at the Bay Area Council