Schwarzenegger admin will consider undamming Hetch Hetchy

To the surprise of, well, just about everybody, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) resources secretary announced yesterday that he will pull together a thorough assessment of a project once considered entirely fanciful: tearing down O’Shaughnessy Dam and restoring Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley. As attractive as the idea sounds to nature lovers — Hetch Hetchy is considered the equal of neighboring Yosemite Valley and could potentially divert some of the tourist hordes currently trampling it — the project faces an uphill battle. Why? Well, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir provides drinking water to some 2.4 million Bay Area residents, and given the water shortages common in the region, assuring an equal water supply from other sources is a minimal requirement for the project to be politically viable. The idea is opposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), water companies, and agencies representing water customers.