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San Francisco Water System Looking for an Upgrade


San Francisco has one of the most complicated and impressive water systems around. We get our water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the Yosemite Valley flooded by the O'Shaughnessy Dam, travelling over 280 miles of pipelines, tunnels, reservoirs, and pump stations. The whole operation is run by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, who is seeking a new project to blend an average of four million gallons per day of groundwater from aquifers beneath parts of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties to the existing municipal water supply system for distribution within San Francisco. The project would require the construction of six groundwater well facilities in the western neighborhoods (two renovated existing irrigation well facilities and four new ones), as well as a pipeline distribution system. The new ones would be located just west of Lake Merced Boulevard next to Lake Merced, at the corner of 40th Ave and Wawona Street, at the corner of 40th Ave and Quintara Street, and in Golden Gate Park east of the Middle Drive West and Overlook Drive intersection. The two rehabbed sites are both in Golden Gate Park.


New buildings proposed by SFPUC The Draft Environmental Impact Report found the proposal would not lead to significant unavoidable impacts, but some issues raised in public meetings include impacts to groundwater supply, land subsidence, and cumulative impacts to Golden Gate Park. There's no real reference to the growing push from environmentalists to destroy the O'Shaughnessy Dam and restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley (an idea that was emphatically shot down by SF voters last year and opposed as an infeasible waste of money), but the SFPUC project objectives do include increasing local water supply and reducing dependency on imported water, so this might be part of a cautious backup plan.


Existing buildings to be renovated by SFPUC In case you're looking for some light bedtime reading, the entire 1,964 page DEIR is available online, and the Planning Department is taking public comments in writing til April 27 or in person at tomorrow's hearing.

· Draft Environmental Impact Report for SFPUC Groundwater Distribution System [SF Planning]
· Hetch Hetchy fight not over, activists say [SF Gate]
· Previous Coverage of Hetch Hetchy [Curbed SF]