Survey says ... restore Hetch Hetchy

In late January, we asked Probolsky Research to add a question to one of its surveys of likely voters in California. The questions was posed as follows:

California’s Yosemite National Park once included two

glacier-carved valleys – Yosemite Valley

along the Merced River and Hetch Hetchy Valley

along the Tuolumne River.

In 1913, Congress allowed San Francisco to dam

Hetch Hetchy Valley and turn it into a reservoir for the City.


Should Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley

be restored, if it can be accomplished

without impacting San Francisco’s water supply?

Bottom line: Those supporting restoration outnumbered those opposed by more than 3 to 1!

Naturally we were thrilled to see the very positive results. Five charts below provide breakdowns of these results across different demographics - with some interesting, if mostly minor, differences. A sixth chart includes some after-the-fact interpolation by yours truly and is not a direct finding of the survey.

Chart 1 shows the result of the entire statewide sample.



Chart 2 shows that restoration is supported by both men and women, and by Democrats, Republicans and independents - but that more woman than men and more Democrats than Republicans support restoration.



Chart 3 shows that all age groups support restoration.

18-29 year-olds favor restoration by a factor of 5 to 1? Will they continue to have this view as they age or will their support diminish?It's interesting that support for restoration declines with age until folks reach 65, when it increases again. Is this because people are starting to think of the world their grandchildren are inheriting?




People in all regions of California support restoration.

Support is lowest, however, in the Bay Area - perhaps because it is where San Francisco's Regional Water System delivers water. Even though San Francisco is often described as "pro-environment", its citizens often see the Hetch Hetchy issue differently from how others do. Funny, how that works sometimes.


Probolsky did not break down its poll by those who receive water from San Francisco's system and those who don't. Chart 6 is Restore Hetch Hetchy's "post-processing" of Probolsky's results. The chart assumes that the 5.1 million Bay Area residents who do not get water from San Francisco feel the same as folks in the rest of California, and that the 2.7 million Bay Area residents who do get water from San Francisco are less likely to support restoration. These numbers and California's overall population of 35.1 million people were used to create chart 6. The results suggest that even folks within the service territory support restoration, but by a smaller margin.


Probolsky's complete report is posted online. It includes a complete report of the results and well as a brief description of its "stratified random sampling methodology" and the confidence band of its results.

It will be interesting to see what our opponents say. They will be critical of the lead-in, where we asserted San Francisco's water supply need not be impacted. We will defend any attacks on that assertion as it is clear, as water system professionals know well, that San Francisco can make system improvements to assure that not one drop of water supply is lost!