Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Op Ed in NYT

As my husband said when he forwarded me this, "These people have to be removed from office."

August 29, 2005
Destroying the National Parks

Most of us think of America's national parks as everlasting places, parts of the bedrock of how we know our own country. But they are shaped and protected by an underlying body of legislation, which is distilled into a basic policy document that governs their operation. Over time, that document has slowly evolved, but it has always stayed true to the fundamental principle of leaving the parks unimpaired for future generations. That has meant, in part, sacrificing some of the ways we might use the parks today in order to protect them for tomorrow.

Recently, a secret draft revision of the national park system's basic management policy document has been circulating within the Interior Department. It was prepared, without consultation within the National Park Service, by Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant secretary at Interior who once ran the Chamber of Commerce in Cody, Wyo., was a Congressional aide to Dick Cheney and has no park service experience.

Within national park circles, this rewrite of park rules has been met with profound dismay, for it essentially undermines the protected status of the national parks. The document makes it perfectly clear that this rewrite was not prompted by a compelling change in the park system's circumstances. It was prompted by a change in political circumstances - the opportunity to craft a vision of the national parks that suits the Bush administration.

Some of Mr. Hoffman's changes are trivial, although even apparently subtle changes in wording - from "protect" to "conserve," for instance - soften the standard used to judge the environmental effects of park policy.

But there is nothing subtle about the main thrust of this rewrite. It is a frontal attack on the idea of "impairment." According to the act that established the national parks, preventing impairment of park resources - including the landscape, wildlife and such intangibles as the soundscape of Yellowstone, for instance - is the "fundamental purpose." In Mr. Hoffman's world, it is now merely one of the purposes.

Mr. Hoffman's rewrite would open up nearly every park in the nation to off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and Jet Skis. According to his revision, the use of such vehicles would become one of the parks' purposes. To accommodate such activities, he redefines impairment to mean an irreversible impact. To prove that an activity is impairing the parks, under Mr. Hoffman's rules, you would have to prove that it is doing so irreversibly - a very high standard of proof. This would have a genuinely erosive effect on the standards used to protect the national parks.

The pattern prevails throughout this 194-page document - easing the rules that limit how visitors use the parks and toughening the standard of proof needed to block those uses. Behind this pattern, too, there is a fundamental shift in how the parks are regarded. If the laws establishing the national park system were fundamentally forward-looking - if their mission, first and foremost, was protecting the parks for the future - Mr. Hoffman's revisions place a new, unwelcome and unnecessary emphasis on the present, on what he calls "opportunities for visitors to use and enjoy their parks."

There is no question that we go to national parks to use and enjoy them. But part of the enjoyment of being in a place like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon is knowing that no matter how much it changes in the natural processes of time, it will continue to exist substantially unchanged.

There are other issues too. Mr. Hoffman would explicitly allow the sale of religious merchandise, and he removes from the policy document any reference to evolution or evolutionary processes. He does everything possible to strip away a scientific basis for park management. His rules would essentially require park superintendents to subordinate the management of their parks to local and state agendas. He also envisions a much wider range of commercial activity within the parks.

In short, this is not a policy for protecting the parks. It is a policy for destroying them.

The Interior Department has already begun to distance itself from this rewrite, which it kept hidden from park service employees. But what Mr. Hoffman has given us is a road map of what could happen to the parks if Mr. Bush's political appointees are allowed to have their way.

It is clear by now that Mr. Bush has no real intention of living up to his campaign promise to fully finance the national parks. This document offers a vivid picture of the divide between the National Park Service, whose career employees remain committed to the fundamental purpose of leaving the parks unimpaired, and an Interior Department whose political appointees seem willing to alter them beyond recognition, partly in the service of commercial objectives.

Suddenly, many things - like the administration's efforts to force snowmobiles back into Yellowstone - seem very easy to explain.

A Peninsula institution shuts down

From the Mercury News, Aug. 31:

Kepler's abruptly shuts its doors


By the Mercury News

Kepler's, the Menlo Park independent bookstore that drew loyal readers from around the Bay Area for more than 50 years, abruptly closed Wednesday.

The bookstore was a victim of the economic downturn that began four years ago, according to a sign posted on the door. ``As much as we love what we do and would like to continue another 50 years, we simply cannot,'' the sign read.

By noon today, a steady stream of people had wandered over to the building on El Camino Real to read the sign. The reaction was universal: Shock.

``What? What! My soccer magazines! From England!'' said Karan Das-Grande, 10. ``This is the only place I could get them.''

Rita Allison of Menlo Park, who had been buying books at Keplers for more than 30 years, called the store ```a symbol of the community.''

``It's a big jolt,'' she said.

Menlo Park officials had tried to help owner Clark Kepler negotiate a lower rent without success, said city business development manager David Johnson. Johnson said today that Kepler, whose father founded the store, ``invited all his employees in this morning to the location, even those who weren't scheduled to work. They pulled the shades and locked the doors.''

As they left the meeting, employees ``mentioned slow sales and the continuing difficulty competing with discount booksellers,'' Johnson said.

Kepler's celebrated its 50th anniversary in May.

``My dad had a vision of what a bookseller's role in society was,'' said Kepler in a 2004 interview. Roy Kepler determined that his bookstore would be a community place where readers could find a book on any topic.

Especially in recent years, Kepler's had become known as a place for writers. Lauren Bacall, Bill Cosby, Jane Fonda and Jimmy Carter have read at the store.

But the store suffered with the economy's decline beginning in 2001 and with the rise of chain and online bookstores.

A history, from Kepler's 50th anniversary, celebrated this May

A sad day in Menlo Park

Palo Alto Online story on the closing of Keplers

Keplers and the origin of the Dead

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Great story from, of all places, ESPN

Rather than simply encourage Americans to take up the bike as a method of recreation and exercise, (President Bush) should actively promote it as an alternative form of transportation. This shouldn't be some throwaway quote he says in response to a reporter's question while on vacation. This should be official national policy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

More reasons for Jesus to be proud of the religious right

a) What kind of dope is this guy on?
b) When did the meek-shall-inherit, peace-on-earth types become the war mongerers?
c) Robertson is 75; maybe he's senile, which makes me feel great about him being a leader of the most influential political movement today.
d) Rumsfeld's comment about how we don't "do that kind of thing" is pretty comical.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Examining "both sides" as journalists and creationism

I find the first few graphs of this column very interesting. It is a significant issue for reporters; one we struggle with regularly. Putting it out there is good for readers so they are better able to intelligently look at a story with "both sides." I noticed this phenomenon recently in a story in a pregnancy magazine about taking antidepressants during pregnancy. The reporter cited lots of studies and experts who believe it's probably ok, and one guy who did a small study and thinks it's bad.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Back-of-the-envelope=$10 billion

Here's a fellow Restore Hetch Hetchy member's take on the PUC meeting, which I attended (much to the delight of RHH supporters, who suddenly had a pregnant mom on their side). I don't agree with his characterization of Ellen Levin (she's just a cog, sent by ambivalent superiors who can't be bothered), but the back-of-the-envelope quote was a defining moment.

The San Francisco PUC Citizens Advisory Committee, foisted on the imperial PUC by the Board of Supervisors, met August 15 to consider a Resolution urging the CAC to recommend that the SF PUC "fully cooperate with" the Governor's review of Hetch Hetchy restoration options, and that the CAC recommend that the SF PUC include an alternative in their Capital Improvements Plan that would explore storing water outside Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Those not present at the meeting missed a great display. The SF PUC representative (Ellen Levin) was bristling with hostility in her very bearing; she introduced herself by saying that she was the 'lucky one' chosen to speak for the agency (implying that people above her found other things to do at that time), and that she was not happy to be there, that she would read a prepared statement, and would not venture to answer questions other than what she was clearly authorized to do. She said, in effect, that the PUC has no intention of cooperating with efforts to restore the Valley. All this was expressed in an imperial manner, exuding disdain. When asked how the PUC arrived at its figure of $9 billion for a Hetch Hetchy Valley restoration, she said that it was probably "a back-of-the-envelope" calculation.

Great show, PUC!!

Questions from the audience directed at the PUC representative included:

1) expressions of hope that the SF PUC and the City & County of San Francisco would see the restoration of Hetch Hetchy as an opportunity to have people all over the State of California and the United States help pay for the $4.3 billion capital improvements costs that are facing water ratepayers in SF and the suburbs in exchange for their cooperation on Hetch Hetchy's restoration, and PUC was asked why the SF PUC isn't availing itself of this opportunity;

2) hope that the SF PUC and the City & County of San Francisco would see the restoration of Hetch Hetchy as an opportunity to have people all over the State of California and the United States help pay for the costs of filtering the water (making it cleaner than it is now in its unfiltered state) in exchange for their cooperation on Hetch Hetchy's restoration, and they were asked why the SF PUC isn't availing itself of this opportunity.

3) asked the SF PUC panelist to provide backgound information about its cost estimates for restoring Hetch Hetchy's (ranging up to $10 billion). RHH estimates the cost to be around $1 billion, and Environmental Defense estimates the cost to be between $0.5 billion and $1.65 billion.

4) asked what would be wrong with using pumps to pump water from the Don Pedro Reservoir (where water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir could be stored) into the Foothhill Tunnel (which runs underneath the Don Pedro Reservoir) when the current water system already has 23 pump stations (according to the SF Chronicle article of Sept. 2002 by Susan Sward and Chuck Finney, and RHH's technical review of the system that identifes many pump stations).

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Still more on Hetch Hetchy

News Hour with Jim Lehrer


here's the original expose by the SF Chronicle revealing that San Fran had been using money meant to repair the Hetch Hetchy system (which serves more than 2 million residents outside the city) for city projects:

The San Francisco Chronicle




S.F. looted region's water system, diverted millions into city coffers;

Now $3.6 billion sought to repair and expand aging Hetch Hetchy

SOURCE: Chronicle Staff Writers

BYLINE: Susan Sward, Chuck Finnie

Copyright 2002 San Francisco Chronicle.

About the series

TODAY Bay Area water system in peril.

MONDAY Public power vision betrayed..

Over the past 20 years, San Francisco officials raided the city's vaunted Hetch Hetchy Water and Power system of hundreds of millions of
dollars, leaving the Bay Area's largest water supply vulnerable to earthquake, drought and decay.

Despite increasingly serious warnings about the need for expansion and seismic upgrades, city officials postponed the costly work and used
profits from Hetch Hetchy's hydropower electricity sales to bankroll city programs and salaries for everything from the Municipal Railway to
health care for the needy.

Today, engineers warn that a significant earthquake could cause widespread damage to the system, ranging from the collapse of Calaveras
Dam in Alameda County to the destruction of a key tunnel that delivers water through the foothills to 2.4 million Bay Area residents,
potentially cutting off most of the system's water supply for 60 days. Now city officials want San Francisco and its suburban water
customers to borrow $3.6 billion to fix the problems - and pay for it by more than doubling water bills.

"The politicians used the Hetchy system as a money machine in the basement of City Hall," said Jim Chappell, president of San Francisco
Planning and Urban Research, a nonprofit civic group. "For decades, there has been gross irresponsibility in the siphoning of funds clearly
needed for Hetchy maintenance."

Since 1979, San Francisco officials have diverted $670 million from the Hetch Hetchy system into the city's general fund, according to city
records. As recently as fiscal year 2001, the city took nearly $30 million from the system.

Rudy Nothenberg, who ran the city's Public Utilities Commission during Mayor Dianne Feinstein's administration, defended the fund transfers,
saying, "There is nothing wrong in my view with using the (Hetch) Hetchy power resource to generate money for the general fund, which
pays for cops, parks and recreation and everything that people hold dear."

The city's diversion of the funds, though legal, exploited a loophole in the City Charter and shirked its obligation to maintain the Hetch
Hetchy aqueduct that the city constructed from Yosemite National Park to the Bay Area during the early 1900s.

The deteriorating condition of the system has prompted a rebellion by Hetch Hetchy's suburban water customers, who have raised the
threat of seeking state control over the repairs if the city -doesn't move speedily on its own.

Fiercest of San Francisco's critics are lawmakers representing those communities where residents and businesses depend solely or in part on
Hetch Hetchy water.

"If we have a major disaster, all the Bay Area will suffer," said Assemblyman Lou Papan, a Millbrae Democrat who represents more than
400,000 Hetch Hetchy customers. "We can no longer afford to put up with the child's play going on in San Francisco. The deterioration rests
on their shoulders."

Today, San Francisco officials say they need $3.6 billion to put the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct back on a sound footing.

This fall San Francisco voters will be asked to approve Proposition A, a $1.6 billion bond measure, to cover the city's share of rebuilding and
expanding the water system over the next 13 years.

To pay for it, San Franciscans' water bills would nearly triple by 2015. Suburban users of the system would raise another $2 billion toward
the project, requiring a more than doubling of their water bills over the same period.

California historian Kevin Starr calls the failure to maintain Hetch Hetchy more than just a matter of dollars and cents.

Recalling the system's creation in the early 1900s - an engineering marvel requiring an act of Congress and the sacrifice of majestic,
3-mile-long Hetch Hetchy Valley - Starr said the system's decline amounts to an abandonment of the public trust.

"For San Francisco to neglect Hetch Hetchy is to neglect the public works project it used to bring itself into metropolitan status," said Starr,
the state librarian.

Dangerous disrepair

Much of the 167-mile Hetch Hetchy aqueduct is more than three-quarters of a century old and vital sections are in dire need of repair:

-- State engineers suspect that Calaveras Dam, located in Alameda County 10 miles northeast of San Jose, is unstable, and have advised
San Francisco to keep the reservoir behind it less than a third full.

For years, water officials have been concerned about the dam's stability - in part because it failed in 1918 during construction and because
the Calaveras Fault runs within a quarter-mile of the dam.

"After it failed, they continued to build the dam on top of the material that had slid into the reservoir," said Ron Delparte of the state
Division of Dam Safety. "We -don't do that anymore."

More than four years ago, the state warned that the dam was in "an extremely high seismic environment" and "its height, reservoir storage
capacity and location create a very high damage potential to life and property."

More than a year ago the state told the city "the stability of the dam would be in question in a major quake," Delparte said. The city agreed
to lower the reservoir to a level considered safe for now.

State officials say that if the 200-foot-high dam failed, its water would cascade along Alameda Creek's path through Sunol, Fremont and
Newark, threatening lives and property.

Tentative plans call for replacing the dam and increasing more than six-fold the total capacity of the 31 billion-gallon reservoir.

-- A 64-year-old reservoir on a hill in the heart of the city's residential Sunset District - known as Sunset Reservoir North Basin - has a
seismically deficient concrete roof. In addition, the dam's northwest corner, at 28th Avenue and Ortega Street, sits on sand that could
liquefy in a major quake. State officials say the reservoir's 89 million gallons could spill out to the west, threatening lives and property.

Four years ago, state dam safety officials told the city to look at the stability of the reservoir's foundation, and now - in 2002 - the city is
preparing to design the repair and finish the work by 2005.

-- Some sections of 75-year-old pipelines carrying Hetch Hetchy water across San Francisco Bay sit on wooden trestles that were
constructed long before modern seismic-strengthening techniques were developed. These pipelines are decaying and are considered very
vulnerable to failure, particularly because they cross the Hayward Fault. The city says a fix -won't be finished until 2013.

-- Meanwhile, the entire waterworks - 21 reservoirs, 25 tanks, two water treatment plants, 23 pump stations, 40 miles of tunnels and 1,470
miles of water mains stretching from Yosemite National Park to North Beach - is so overextended that one vital tunnel bringing water to the
Bay Area has not been shut down for maintenance in decades, city utility officials say.

This tunnel lies between the Hayward and Calaveras faults, and if it were to break in a quake or other catastrophe, that could halt the flow
of more than 85 percent of the system's water to Bay Area customers for 30 to 60 days, city-hired experts have concluded.

-- While deferring system maintenance, city officials have moved slowly to meet water demands created by growth in Hetch Hetchy's
service area.

When Hetch Hetchy was built, San Francisco had about 417,000 residents while Alameda County had 246,000 and San Mateo County
27,000. Today San Francisco has about 770,000 residents, Alameda County 1.4 million and San Mateo County 707,000.

On Hetch Hetchy's list of customers are thousands of businesses crucial to the economy of the Bay Area and the nation - in particular
Silicon Valley's high-tech industry.

With such growth occurring and more to come, critics say San Francisco failed to plan adequately where to get more water. Even with the
revamp, city officials say, the Hetch Hetchy system still would be 10-20 percent short of projected need in a long drought and, without
Proposition A, shortages could be in the 45 percent range.

This state of affairs exists despite the fact that San Francisco has known since 1994 that the Hetch Hetchy system was going to fall short
of customers' demands, according to a state audit.

"The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has been slow to assess and upgrade its water delivery system so it can survive catastrophes
such as earthquakes, floods and fires" and meet future supply demands, auditors said in a 2000 report.

"San Francisco has not been aggressively looking at increasing the system's reliable water supplies to tide its customers through dry years,"
said Nicole Sandkulla of the Bay Area Water Users Association, representing Hetch Hetchy's 29 wholesale customers. "If there is a drought,
we'd all suffer - there's not enough water."

Sandkulla noted that in 1998, Contra Costa County Water District completed construction of the new Los Vaqueros Reservoir in the eastern
part of the county. Another major water development is being pursued by East Bay Municipal Utility District to give the agency Sacramento
River water during drought years.

Where the money went

Within the Hetch Hetchy system, there are two branches - one providing water and another generating hydroelectric power. The City
Charter called for the water and power systems to be merged when completed. When merged, hydroelectric revenues could be declared
surplus if they were not needed to maintain the water and power system. Only then could those revenues be used for other city needs.

But city officials have never declared the systems complete and merged. Thus city officials can declare the hydroelectric profits as surplus
to that branch of the Hetch Hetchy system and then use the revenues for general city needs - even though the system's waterworks are in
desperate need of repairs and improvements.

The city began diverting the hydropower revenues at least as early as the late 1960s. About $25 million in Hetch Hetchy funds went to fund
Muni electrical maintenance work in the following decade, which spanned the mayoral administrations of Joseph Alioto, George Moscone and
Dianne Feinstein.

Since 1979, the earliest year for which the San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC) officials say they have records, more than $236
million in Hetch Hetchy power revenues were transferred during Feinstein's administration ending in 1987; $95 million during Art Agnos'
four-year administration ending in 1991; more than $104 million during Frank Jordan's administration ending in 1995; and more than $233
million through Willie Brown's administration.

In 1999, Brown began reducing the amount of money the city took in Hetch Hetchy power revenues, believing the city should be weaned
from using those funds, Brown aides said. In the 2002 budget year, there was no transfer.

City Hall politicians who took the Hetch Hetchy money say it went to pay for police, public health and other important services and that it
helped San Francisco stave off municipal budget cuts during lean economic times.

Former Mayors Agnos and Jordan said they approved the transfers only after being assured by their staffs that the moves would not have a
negative effect on the Hetch Hetchy system. Agnos said the transfers in his administration declined over time because of his concern about
the need to protect the system, and Jordan said the city's budget problems forced him to continue transfers.

"I walked into office with a $300 million deficit and was having to consolidate services," Jordan said. "The public was clamoring for health
care for AIDS, social services for the homeless, Muni, affordable housing, the libraries."

Jordan said he toured the Hetch Hetchy system and knew it had long-term infrastructure needs, "but it -wasn't something I could take on
as an immediate priority given what I was dealing with."

Critics say the transfers were done out of expedience by elected officials.

"They milked the cow and chose to ignore an asset when they should have been putting its revenues back in the system to protect all who
depend on it," said Assemblyman Papan, who sponsored legislation this year that sets specific deadlines for the repair of Hetch Hetchy.

Warnings ignored

San Francisco had many warnings of trouble ahead.

In 1987, an SFPUC consultant faulted the agency for failing to perform preventative maintenance on the Hetch Hetchy waterworks, lack of
familiarity with the system's condition and lack of proper planning.

In 1994, Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst Harvey Rose concluded that the SFPUC was not collecting the basic information to set
priorities for what needed to be done to keep Hetch Hetch water flowing.

In 1999, experts hired to examine Hetch Hetchy vulnerabilities forecast enormous failures throughout the system in a severe earthquake.

Mayor Brown's five-member Public Utilities Commission adopted a 13-year capital improvement plan this May to put the waterworks on sound
footing, at a total cost of $3.6 billion, shared between San Francisco and suburban ratepayers according to their proportional use. The $1.6
billion water bond on the November city ballot is to pay San Francisco's share of the project.

San Franciscans, who pay some of the lowest water rates in the Bay Area, would see their monthly bills climb from an average of $14.43 to
$40.85 by 2015; suburban users' bills would go from an average of $32 to $71.

Typically, the suburban users now pay higher rates than San Francisco because their water systems are newer and they are still paying
them off.

The commission's vote on the revamp plan came two years and four months after its staff first began formulating a construction priority list,
which includes seismic strengthening and expansion to increase the system's capacity.

Jim Fabris, head of the San Francisco Association of Realtors and a member of a mayoral task force that evaluated the SFPUC's Hetch
Hetchy improvement plans, says he cannot fathom how the city could have moved so slowly given so many warnings.

"What is mystifying is how many in government knew of the severity of the infrastructure's aging problems for decades" without moving
expeditiously to meet repair and supply expansion concerns, Fabris said. "To not have done so borders on a crime."

Starr, the California historian, sees the city's failure to act expeditiously as indicative of a San Francisco-style arrogance - we built the
Hetch Hetchy system, it's ours and it's magnificent.

"It's this idea San Franciscans have that this -isn't a real city dependent on maintenance but it's a Monte Carlo, an Oz, the Club Med of
American cities," Starr said.

Some of San Francisco's often-desultory approach to care of Hetch Hetchy has to do with politicians' lack of interest in approving
infrastructure projects that will bring them little glory.

Oral Moore, Hetch Hetchy's longtime, respected general manager who retired in 1983, says most routine maintenance and repair should be
paid for year-by-year because that avoids bond measure interest charges.

But, he said, politicians "have budget problems above and beyond Hetch Hetchy and they -don't like to see funds diverted to the water
system from other important city needs."

Dean Coffey, who headed the Hetch Hetchy system from 1979 to 1989, said he pushed for repairs before any transfers of the system's
money over to the general fund, but "there was a tremendous amount of pressure put on the commissioners and staff by City Hall, which
wanted as much revenue out of Hetchy as possible."

Suburban anxiety

While Hetch Hetchy's problems have been well known for years in the relatively small circle of water and power experts, the problem has
been brought into sharp focus only as Hetch Hetchy users outside San Francisco have grown increasingly critical of the system.

Those users include hundreds of high-profile businesses that produce everything from cars to computer chips. Many of these companies
prize the Hetch Hetchy water for its high quality and the relatively small amount of additional treatment it requires before being used in
manufacturing processes.

"Our industries are delighted to have the Hetchy water because it is so soft," said Robin Saunders, director of the city of Santa Clara's
water and sewer system that serves dozens of high-tech firms. "It comes right off the Sierra, which is mostly bedrock granite. It's put in
pipes and comes straight to us so it has a very low mineral content. That makes it ideal for the Silicon Valley industries that have to have
ultra-pure water for their industrial processes."

In the state Capitol, lawmakers representing San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda county customers of the Hetch Hetchy system have won
passage of legislation that creates a mechanism allowing those water users to issue bonds covering their share of the project and sets a
series of deadlines for the project. All are expected to win Gov. Gray Davis' signature.

Ira Ruskin, chairman of the regional water reliability committee for the Bay Area Water Users Association that represents San Francisco's 29
wholesale, suburban customers, says the measures are greatly needed: "There is a human and economic catastrophe waiting to happen.
The very health and well-being of 2.4 million Bay Area residents is at stake.

"We cannot stand by and leave it up to San Francisco to decide when or if they're going to fix the Hetch Hetchy system," said Ruskin, a city
councilman from Redwood City, where Hetch Hetchy is the sole source of water. "The SFPUC's past record shows an inability or
unwillingness . . . to repair the system."

The Legislature's recent involvement in the issue of Hetch Hetchy's upkeep occurs at a time when San Francisco has been losing ground as
a population center and suburbs have been growing.

With the $1.6 billion bond measure on San Francisco's November ballot, the system's 29 customers outside the city will be watching the
outcome intently.

Clearly, the city finds itself in a world far different than the one where its leaders grabbed the Hetch Hetchy water almost a century ago.

"San Francisco's political position is slipping and it can no longer imperially call the shots," said Rich DeLeon, a San Francisco State University
professor who studies and writes about the city's history and politics. "The city has to get its act together and work out water problems on
a regional, cooperative basis.".

Librarian researcher Johnny Miller contributed to this report.


$670 million

Hetch Hetchy hydropower revenues San Francisco officials used for other city services.

$3.6 billion

Estimated construction and financing costs for rebuilding and expanding the Hetch Hetchy system.

2.4 million

Bay Area residents who use Hetch Hetchy water.


Projected monthly water bill increase for San Francisco water users by 2015.


Projected monthly water bill increase for suburban Hetch Hetchy water users by 2015.

Nov. 5 Prop. A

S.F. voters will be asked to approve a $1.6 billion bond measure to fund repair and expansion of Hetch Hetchy system.


Hetch Hetchy Water and Power: A century in the making

-- Phelan's ploy - In 1901, James D. Phelan files for water rights in Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley and at the nearby Lake Eleanor, not
revealing he is the city's mayor. It's the beginning of one of the most notorious water grabs in U.S. history.

-- Battle preparations - Phelan signs water rights over to the city in 1903 in preparation for the decade-long battle to win congressional
approval to flood Hetch Hetchy Valley and use it as a reservoir for San Francisco water and power.

-- Catastrophe - San Francisco's 1906 earthquake and fire gives the city's search for a new water source special urgency, as the private
Spring Valley Water Co.'s water mains break and a three-day firestorm consumes much of the city.

-- Muir's opposition - The Sierra Club sends a 1907 resolution to the secretary of the Interior opposing the flooding of the valley. John Muir,
the famed founder of the club, is among the leaders of the fight to block the flooding.

-- Bond measure - In 1910, San Franciscans vote overwhelmingly for a $45 million bond to fund the Hetch Hetchy project, which will use as
its main source the Tuolumne River, originating in a glacier on the slopes of 13,000-foot Mount Lyell.

-- Key players - Two men who will be crucial to building the Hetch Hetchy system step onto the city's political stage in 1912: James "Sunny
Jim" Rolph Jr. becomes mayor of the 417,000-population city and names M.M. O'Shaughnessy city engineer.

-- Raker Act - O'Shaughnessy and Rolph lobby for passage of the Raker Act, which allows the city to dam the Tuolumne River for water and
power. Barely two decades after creating Yosemite National Park, Congress approves the act in 1913.

-- O'Shaughnessy dies - On Oct. 12, 1934, 12 days before the first Hetch Hetchy water flows into the Bay Area, O'Shaughnessy dies at age
72. The last years were bitter for him as project costs grew increasingly controversial and he was pushed aside politically.

Bond foes - In 2002, several groups, including the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense, oppose the water bond and call on San
Francisco to study the feasibility of restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley to its natural state.


"To provide for the little children, men, and women of the 800,000 populationwho swarm the shores of San Francisco Bay is a matter of
much greater importancethan encouraging the few who, in solitary loneliness, will sit on the peak of the Sierrasloafing around the throne of
the God of nature and singing His praise."

James D. Phelan, former San Francisco mayor, in 1913 testimony in Congresson San Francisco's bid for the valley

"This is a large undertaking for a small city the size of San Francisco. The City That Knows How'with courage and determination has
broughtthe project to completion."

M. M. O'Shaughnessy, San Francisco's city engineer who supervised most of the system's construction

"Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water tanks the people's cathedrals and churches,for no holier temple has ever been consecratedby the
heart of man."

John Muir, first Sierra Club president, naturalist and ardent foe of Hetch Hetchy Valley's flooding


Costs to upgrade Hetch Hetchy

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the city agency that runs the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power system, proposes $3.6 billion in
repairs and upgrades to the waterworks over 13 years. Here is a breakdown of the projected spending:

------------------------SpendingConstruction in 2003 dollars - $2.1 billion Inflation adustment - $500 million Contingency & management
reserve - $400 million Financing costs - $600 million Total - $3.6 billion

-------------------Water bill increasesHetch Hetchy water users would face bill hikes to pay for their share of improvements to parts of the
system that they use. For a typical four-person household, here is a breakdown of the projected increase, which would be phased in
through 2015:.San Francisco-- 2002: $14.43 a month-- 2015: $40.85 a month.Outside San Francisco-- 2002: $32.00 a month-- 2015:
$71.00 a month

------------------------------Hetch Hetchy raidedDespite the regional dependence on Hetch Hetchy for water, San Francisco politicians
turned the system into a cash cow to feed City Hall spending. Amount of money pulled out and transferred into the city general fund by
year, since fiscal year 1979:

-- Total amount since 1979: $670 million-- Cumulative amount adjusted for inflation: $956 million


Hetch Hetchy water usersTwenty-nine wholesale customers of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission serve Hetch Hetchy water in
these areas of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties.

.Source: San Francisco Public Utilities CommissionChronicle Graphic

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

More Woodward

"He theorized that Hillary Clinton would earn the Democratic nomination in 2008 and would run against Dick Cheney..."

This is a weird prediction. I think, anyway. I also think that Hillary is the slightly less un-electable of the two.