Yosemite has a dam? Help reverse the damage and support Restore Hetch Hetchy

By Kathy Schrenk
Have you heard about the dam in the national park? Yep, a dam and reservoir in a national park. And not just any park, in Yosemite, located in California's Sierra Nevada mountains--one of the jewels of the national park system.

Hetch Hetchy Valley has been compared favorably to the famous Yosemite Valley by none other than John Muir, who was instrumental in getting the park protected. Muir considered Hetch Hetchy to be Yosemite's twin. But that valley is under 300 feet of water and is being used as a storage tank for the city of San Francisco. Even though there were better ways to store that water when the dam was built, as there are now, Woodrow Wilson signed into law an act letting the city flood the valley 98-years ago this week.

But the damage can be undone. Restore Hetch Hetchy is fighting on several fronts to get San Francisco to "un-occupy" the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Numerous studies have shown that the valley could be drained and everyone who gets water and power from the reservoir would see a 5% or less reduction in what they get from the system, an amount easily recovered in conservation and water recycling. (San Francisco does virtually no water recycling, in marked contrast to cities and counties in other parts of California.)

The movement is gaining momentum, and there are lots of ways you can help. If you live in California, consider hosting a house party to educate folks on the cause. If you know anyone who lives in the city of San Francisco, please send them the link to the Restore Hetch Hetchy site. Because San Francisco controls the Tuolumne River water system, the city's voters have a better opportunity than anyone to change the status quo. And, of course, you can make a donation.

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