Godzilla, Groundwater and Hetch Hetchy

It is both fashionable and correct these days to explain that "there is no silver bullet" for solving California's water supply problems, and that solutions must use "all the tools in the toolbox". But perhaps no tool is as important as improving the recharge of our depleted aquifers in wet years. 


The term "Godzilla El Nino", coined by NASA Climatologist Bill Patzert as a forecast for wet weather this coming winter, has stuck. Godzilla, the reptilian sea monster starring in 40 films, may have terrified small children but saved the earth many times over.

We have explained the importance of groundwater recharge in an editorial opinion "Groundwater recharge could help replace storage function of Hetch Hetchy" just published in the Sacramento Bee. Recharge is especially important in wet years. Here is hoping the forecast of a "Godzilla El Nino" comes true for 2016.

Please take a minute to read the op ed and consider sharing it (or this email) with friends. Whether one supports restoration of Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley, opposes it, or is undecided, the opportunity to recharge our aquifers needs to be better understood. It has been successful in many areas but underused in others - principally due to lack of cooperation. 

Success in restoring Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley depends on making certain water system improvements for San Francisco and other Bay Area communities which receive water supply from the Tuolumne River. That is why Restore Hetch Hetchy's mission is "to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to its natural splendor ─ while continuing to meet the water and power needs of all communities that depend on the Tuolumne River." 

More recently, and especially in the face of California's severe drought, we have been even more clear - explaining that restoration can take place without losing a drop of water supply. 


Senator Wolk starred in "Discover Hetch Hetchy" with Harrison Ford, but has not had the opportunity to share the silver screen with Godzilla.

We agree with how Senator Lois Wolk described the need for a viable water supply solution for delivering Tuolumne River water without Hetch Hetchy Reservoir: "It's important for Bay Area residents to understand that their water is safe. They have the rights to this water. What is at issue is where the water is stored."

 One way to make restoration possible is simply to replace the surface storage currently held in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with groundwater storage, and to "conjunctively" manage this groundwater with other existing surface reservoirs.  There is little question that such a plan is physically possible and economically feasible, but San Francisco would need to develop cooperative arrangements with other communities to make it possible. 

 Presently, San Francisco declines to consider the water system improvements necessary to return the Hetch Hechy Valley back to Yosemite Park and the people of California and the United States. As a result, Restore Hetch Hetchy is pursuing restoration through the courts. We intend to show that the value of a restored valley is greater than the cost of making restoration possible and that the existing reservoir therefore violates the California Constitution's prohibition against any "unreasonable method of diversion".

 With your support, we can undo this "Great American Mistake", restore Hetch Hetchy Valley and make Yosemite whole once again. Please contribute today.