The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

July 26, 2012
Hetch Hetchy wars heat up...

Steven Greenhut, based in Sacramento, has written a piece on Hetch Hetchy for He is vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. His theme is that a San Francisco ballot initiative to study the city's water use and possible restoration of the currently dammed Hetch Hetchy Valley is an issue that can unite free-market folks and environmentalists.

"The best reason for the plan is that it would remind Californians that the biggest assault on the environment has come from government, not the private sector. Maybe a serious look at the history of the O'Shaughnessy Dam will spark a needed discussion on how a more competitive system can better meet the state's water needs and protect the environment in the future. Why should San Franciscans be exempt from learning the true value of a precious limited resource?"

Another piece comes from John Upton, a free-lance journalist based in Oakland. He is a frequent contributor to Grist and has written for the New York Times, Reuters, Bay Citizen, San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly, 7x7 San Francisco and others. He notes the sterility of the "drowned wild land" that was a valley teeming with life and is now a reservoir lapping sheer cliff walls -- with life thriving just a mile beyond the reservoir. Voters will get to weigh in: 

San Francisco voters will decide in November whether the city's water agency will overhaul its water management practices, expand some reservoirs and draw on new sources of recycled water and local groundwater and rainwater. All with the goal of eventually draining and restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley without jeopardizing Bay Area water supplies.

Both writers note the irony of San Francisco Chronicle opposition to the proposal -- and Sacramento Bee support for it. Upton concludes that the dueling editorials "illustrate how dramatically things can change as you get farther from a reservoir."

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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