The Bay Area is fortunate to have some of the finest drinking water in the country, in large part because it comes from the Sierras by way of a water system called Hetch Hetchy, originating at the O’Shaughnessy hydroelectric dam in Yosemite National Park. Occasionally I see cars with “Restore Hetch Hetchy” bumper stickers, which is the grand ambition of some environmental groups who would like to see the dam demolished and the river restored (I’m sure they would like to see human beings extracted from Yosemite at the same time). Anyone who has lived through the drought of the late 1970′s is likely to ask “are you fucking crazy?” when presented with a plan of this nature. Just where would the 2.4 million residents who rely on this water system get their water, and to a smaller degree, the electricity generated from the dam.?
In California water is like oil in other parts of the world, a precious commodity that wars have been fought over. For an excellent historical view on the importance of water in California’s history I would suggest you get a copy of Cadillac Desert. Ironically, the Colorado River is to this day a source of conflict between the states of California, Nevada, and Arizona, only underscoring that the water wars of the last century continue today and any move to alter the water system in this state will be met with unanimity in disapproval. Jeez, even the California Aqueduct, which brings water from Northern California to Southern California has been the root of conflict between both halves of the state, at one time fueling a movement for the state to be split into two states!
Ironically, not only do major Democrats in the state (never mind polling the GOP) not want anything to do with the Restore Hetch Hetchy movement, even the Socialists who run the City of San Francisco distance themselves from just such a suggestion. Of course, considering that the City actually owns Hetch Hetchy (although the dam itself is located in a national park, and therefore under the jurisdiction of the Federal government, which also owns the water itself), and they recognize that not only is the water system is critical regional resource, but also a source of capital so maybe they are capitalists after all despite their rhetoric to the contrary.
[ed: Pelosi said] “Well, it’s such a foreign idea, notion, to me I don’t even call it an idea that they would tear down Hetch Hetchy. But any plan that has a disparity of $3 billion to $10 billion is one that needs close attention. That’s a variation of 300 percent. So I will be happy to talk to you about it after I read it, but that’s a big disparity and a big controversy.”