Prop F went down the drain, but water issues remain

Nov 14, 2012

The only local ballot measure San Franciscans rejected on Election Day was Measure F. It would have prompted an $8 million study into taking down the O’Shaugnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park, which currently supplies water for San Francisco and dozens of other Bay Area counties.

It also would have called for reviews of San Francisco’s water usage. While nearly 78 percent of voters said “no” to the measure, considering how the city uses its water can be valuable. San Francisco recycles very little, if any, water, and heavy rains regularly cause sewage overflows. We called Paul Rogers to talk about the issue – he’s the environmental writer for the San Jose Mercury News and managing editor for KQED’s science programs. He spoke with KALW’s Ben Trefny about San Francisco’s controversial water source.

PAUL ROGERS: For people who want to know where the water comes from in San Francisco when you turn on the tap, you're drinking melted Sierra snow. So in the Sierra Nevada when the snow melts and the water comes pouring down into various rivers one of those rivers is the Tuolumne River, which runs through Yosemite National Park. Hetch Hetchy reservoir was built there in the 1920s. It stores water which then comes 160 miles through pipes down through the width of California into the Bay Area – and a lot of that water is stored in the Crystal Springs reservoir along highway 280 in San Mateo county.  So when you turn on the tap in San Francisco, that's what you're drinking.

Click the audio player above to listen to the interview.