Lawsuit Asks to Remove Yosemite Dam

April 21, 2015: Muir fought and lost his battle to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley from being flooded over 100 years ago. This legal complaint would restore the valley.
By Staff ,

O'Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley. Photo by David Krause

View from the dam at Hetch Hetchy. View Wapama Falls at left and Kolana Rock at right. Photo by David Krause

David Krause

April 21, 2015: "San Francisco is unreasonably monopolizing spectacular Hetch Hetchy Valley by using it as a 117-billion-gallon reservoir, says a new lawsuit in a decades-old fight to restore the Yosemite National Park landmark," according to the Fresno Bee.

This lawsuit was fittingly filed on John Muir's 177th. Birthday. Muir fought and lost his battle to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley from being flooded over 100 years ago. The O'Shaughnessy Dam finished construction in 1923. Not wanting to burdon San Francisco which depends on the reservoir for its water supply, the new lawsuit gives the city time to reclaim the water in a different location. However, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said that the fourth year of a draught is not the best time to discuss this project.

“This is an exciting day for Yosemite,” said Spreck Rosekrans, executive director of Restore Hetch Hetchy. The valley "has been lost to the American people for 100 years — it is time to take it back.”

Comments to The Bee's article include polarizing opinions.

Joel Simmons writes: "...This boils down to a handful of people who call themselves 'conservationist' and think they know what is best for millions of Californian's...from a legal standpoint this lawsuit is ill-advised at best...the timing could not be worse...and it is selfish, and gives true conservation a black eye."

John Sang wrote, "Of course Hetch Hetchy can be restored. It will take time and money but mostly time. Allowing it to be built was a crime in the first place. Deconstructing the Dam does not mean that the water cannot still go to San Francisco it would just have to be stored in another way and place, someplace much less beautiful and renown as Yosemite's twin. Some of the 'Twin Tunnel' money would be much better spent here."

Related: Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy vs. California's Need for Water