To its credit, the Sierra Club often reminds us of the synergy between nature and civilization -- the intrinsic need of humankind for the magnificence of the wild. The spirit of John Muir endures.
But that thing about draining Hetch Hetchy? Yeah, let's not do that.
Not now. Not at a cost of billions that could be used for urgent needs, environmental and otherwise. Not with looming questions about the effects of climate change on our water supply. Not with the need for alternative places to store water -- including dams sure to inspire lawsuits, maybe even from the Sierra Club itself.
And finally, not without a vote of all the players.
San Francisco will vote in November on the future of city water, including a requirement to study draining the reservoir in Yosemite National Park. San Francisco owns and operates Hetch Hetchy, but more than 40 percent of its water users are outside the city. Burlingame, Menlo Park, Redwood City, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Mountain View get all or nearly all their water from it. Other cities get significant portions as well.
If Hetch Hetchy Valley were in its natural state today, it would never be dammed, any more than Yosemite Valley could be blocked off and swallowed by its confluence of rivers. Muir was a visionary.
But today much of California relies on the fragile San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta for its water -- a system whose destruction is just an earthquake away. Until