If you can read this, thank your electric utility
If you have clean drinking water,
thank your water utility
Left to right: David Pine, President, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, Nicole Sandkulla, CEO of the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency and Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
Most of us begin the day by flipping on a light switch. We may then cook breakfast on a gas stove, take a shower, and use the toilet.
We can do these things, easily and routinely, only because the people who work for our water and power utilities make it possible.
Some utilities are private companies, and some are public agencies, but all provide indispensable public services.
Yet providing these services often causes harm. Rivers are dammed, water and air are polluted, and wildlife is impaired. It is a constant struggle to provide these services while doing the least amount of damage to the natural world.
Very often we want our utilities to provide these services while inflicting less damage. We often tell them so in no uncertain terms. Sometimes there are sharp disagreements.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, as an institution, has been particularly recalcitrant. It has consistently declined any serious discussion of water system improvements that would accommodate restoration of Yosemite National Park's Hetch Hetchy Valley.
As a result, we have sued San Francisco in the California courts to force the City to address the merits of restoration.
In spite of our lawsuit, Restore Hetch Hetchy has generally good relations with staff at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and other water agencies. We respect the work they do. Most of them respect us. Some have even indicated privately that they hope we succeed in our efforts to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley to its natural splendor.
Most utility staff are dedicated to providing reliable service to their customers. Not to worry. The SFPUC will be able to do its job just fine after it has returned Hetch Hetchy to Yosemite National Park.