Ecological rewind - Page 5

Environmentalists want to tear down O'Shaughnessy Dam and restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley, but does their plan hold water?

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Kolana Rock towers above Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.
PHOTO BY CHRIS ROBERTS

"San Francisco is a remarkably sophisticated town that is technologically advanced and environmentally advanced, and this is an opportunity to right one of the most destructive environmental wrongs," he said. "It's time to start a local and national conversation."

He acknowledged that there were a lot of technical issues to contend with, saying, "It should only be done in a way that makes sure San Francisco and communities that rely on the system are taken care of."

Major funders backing Restore Hetch Hetchy include retired businesspeople from the financial sector, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, council members of the Yosemite Conservancy, and Lance Olson, a Restore Hetch Hetchy board member and partner in Olson Hagel & Fishburn, LLP, a prominent Sacramento legal firm that represents the California Democratic Party and elected officials.

Other influential and politically connected individuals have joined the effort as well. Marshall assured me that "no one from PG&E has given us a dime." Yet the project still faces some powerful opponents. "I have opposed removing the O'Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley for decades and I remain opposed," U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein told the Guardian. "Draining the reservoir would endanger San Francisco's water supply, further jeopardize California's water infrastructure and impose a huge financial burden on the state."

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