Hetch Hetchy and other bottled waters

When Willie Brown was Mayor of San Francisco, he decided to bottle "Hetch Hetchy" water and to sell it at City-controlled venues. Provisions of the Raker Act, which allowed San Francisco to build a reservoir in Yosemite, did not allow resale for profit, so the idea did not last.


How good is San Francisco's water really?

Brown, like many San Franciscans, was proud of the City's water system and prone to boast about its high quality. It's good water, no doubt, but perhaps not as special as they claim. The bottled water did not get especially high reviews.


Also, among those who claim San Francisco's tap water is superior to other systems, how many noticed when the pipeline to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir was shut down for six weeks this past winter and all supplies were drawn from local reservoirs?




The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Many have foregone the luxury and convenience of buying bottled water due to the unnecessary use of plastic and favor refillable bottles instead. Restore Hetch Hetchy's vaccum insulated bottles are available online for purchase.


In many places, bottled water is, however, a necessity - not a convenience. Traveling abroad, it is common to ask whether it is OK to drink the tap water. Sometimes it is indeed unhealthy. Sanitation worldwide has vastly improved, but waterborne diseases still kill an estimated 3.4 million people per year.




Most of us are by now aware that non-potable tap water is a fact of life for up to 1,000,000 Californians. Governor Newsom has made solving this problem a priority. He is supporting a tax, to be applied on water bills statewide, as a reliable funding stream to do the necessary work.

Water agencies and many lawmakers have resisted this approach and instead support using dollars from the State's General Fund. A resolution to the impasse may come as part of a budget deal this month.

This problem needs to be solved. A reliable funding stream is necessary. History suggests, however, that it will also be necessary to follow up to ensure that the money is spent efficiently and as intended.