Hetch Hetchy lawsuit moves forward

A lawsuit seeking to force San Francisco to come up with a plan to restore the flooded Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park and remove The City’s reservoir there will be allowed to proceed in Tuolumne County, the group pursuing the lawsuit announced today.

According to Oakland-based group Restore Hetch Hetchy, a judge ruled against San Francisco’s efforts to move the case back to San Francisco.

The Hetch Hetchy Valley was flooded in 1923 to create the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Run by the San Francisco Public Utilities District, it now provides water to 24 cities and water districts in Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, in addition to San Francisco.

But the Restore Hetch Hetchy group says the flooded valley bordered by sheer granite cliffs was once “as thrilling and majestic a landscape as Yosemite Valley.” The lawsuit filed in April contends that operating the reservoir violates the California Constitution, which requires state water resources be used in a reasonable way and be put to beneficial use in the fullest extent possible.

Flooding the valley eliminated or impaired the scenic, recreational, aesthetic and fishing uses of the Tuolumne River.

They are asking the court to order San Francisco to come up with a plan to provide the necessary water by diverting the river and storing the water elsewhere, outside of Yosemite National Park.

Officials with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office could not immediately be reached for comment today but previously have said they will vigorously defend the city’s water arrangements.