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May 21, 2023



B'game native Peter Hartlaub continues to contribute interesting pieces at the SF Comicle. Nolte, King and Hartlaub might be the only ones not in the Sporting Green worth reading on a regular basis. Hartlaub has a knack for catching historical events and anniversaries like this one today:

Today, we take for granted the creation of the O’Shaughnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which began filling with water meant for San Francisco taps on May 24, 1923. Since the greater 160-mile waterway project was finished in 1934, crystal clear water from the Sierra has arrived in city faucets as if by magic.

In fact, the journey to Hetch Hetchy’s transformation was both an engineering marvel and a bureaucratic nightmare, and Muir and the dam’s namesake, Michael O’Shaughnessy, were both dead by the time water finally arrived in 1934 at the Pulgas Water Temple in Redwood City — a domed monument that marks the “finish line” for the project.

The pro-Sierra forces had the perfect mayor in “Sunny Jim” Rolph, who served San Francisco for 19 years from 1912 until 1931 (when he became governor of California). After decades of corruption — including one mayor who was jailed — Rolph put a priority on infrastructure, building the current City Hall, half the city’s police stations and miles of municipal railway in San Francisco. (Ed: Imagine that. An SF mayor interested in "infrastructure"!

Beyond the 341-foot-tall dam, which was 150 feet wide at the base, workers spent 11 more years building 160 miles of tunnels, pipes and aqueducts, with two power stations to convert the water to electricity along the way and four pipelines underneath the San Francisco Bay — more than four decades before BART installed its Transbay Tubes. The total cost to the city was $100 million, almost $2.6 billion in 2023 dollars.

But the finished product was a stunning feat, bringing 300 million gallons of water per day to the Bay Area, entirely by gravity without a single pump. Each drop takes five days to make the journey.
There's a lot more in the piece and some great vintage photos here: https://www.sfchronicle.com/oursf/article/hetch-hetchy-reservoir-san-francisco-miracle-18105507.php


WOW. Check out this drumbeat of price increases in San Jose:

Over a tenth of San Jose’s population may soon see their water bills significantly jump if councilmembers approve an increase on Tuesday, making it one of the largest rate hikes in the Bay Area this coming year.

Customers of the city-operated San Jose Municipal Water System (SJMWS), which serves approximately 140,000 city residents, could see a 14% rise in their monthly water bills — roughly $16 extra per month. Price increases will go into effect July 1 if the San Jose City Council gives the thumbs up.

Officials blame the cost bump on increasing charges by third-party groups who dispense the water, drought-related impacts on supply and usage, and infrastructure improvements that need to be completed. The city-run system serves customers in North San Jose, Alviso, Evergreen, Edenvale and Coyote Valley.

Despite the rise in prices, water usage is not expected to change in the coming year, officials said. The SJMWS is expecting to bring in an additional $8.9 million from the adjustment.

SJMWS also expects further bill increases in the years ahead, with a minimum 15% jump in 2024, 11.5% in 2025 and then seven years of 10% increases. However, if drought conditions worsen, the numbers could increase even more.
That's a 110.5% increase in a decade not counting the compounding effect of working in percentages!

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