San Francisco

Michael O'Shaughnessy with map of Hetch Hetchy area
O'Shaughnessey Dam spillway
(San Francisco Public Utilities Commission)
       San Francisco was the big winner in the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley which provides a pristine water source and generates electricity for the city. (see Slideshow: The Building of O'Shaughnessy Dam
        Hetch Hetchy reservoir provides water for 2.04 million customers in San Francisco and surrounding counties.  The Hetch Hetchy water system is considered a modern engineering marvel bringing water from the Sierra to San Francisco through a gravity-fed system.  ( see Map of San Francisco Water System)


Aerial view of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
(Sierra Club)
        For conservationists, the damming of Hetch Hetchy bolstered their argument that federal lands should be conserved but "mined" for their natural resources.  Char Miller, Senior Fellow at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, in an email interview, shared his belief that Gifford Pinchot thought the damming of Hetch Hetchy was a tremendous success.
        "(Pinchot) considered it to be the highest and best use of the landscape (as did the majority of the CA citizenry); and that it has lived up to the purpose to which he hoped it would be dedicated -- to supplying municipally owned water to San Francisco." - (Char Miller, Senior Fellow at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation)

The Preservationists

Sierra Club protestors rally to save the Grand Canyon
(PBS - National Parks)
        The battle over Hetch Hetchy solidified the preservationist movement and created a new push to preserve our national treasures.  While the loss was devastating to the preservationists, Hetch Hetchy became a rally cry to stop future dams from being built in National Parks.


         "As to the loss of the Sierra Park Valley it's hard to bear. The destruction of the charming groves and gardens, the finest in all California, goes to my heart. But in spite of Satan & Co. some sort of compensation must surely come out of this dark damn-dam-damnation." - (John Muir)

"Never Again Hetch Hetchy"
(Restore Hetch Hetchy - Yosemite's Lost Valley)