The liberal-leaning San Francisco Chronicle calls the idea "insane."
The proposal: a November ballot measure that would ultimately, if passed, move us closer to the idea of draining the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.
The reservoir is the main water source for about 2.5 million Bay Area residents in San Francisco, on the Peninsula, and scattered throughout other parts of our immediate region.
On the Peninsula, we see the end result of water that flows from Hetch Hetchy along Interstate 280 at the Crystal Springs Reservoir.
This week, a conservation group called Restore Hetch Hetchy submitted more than 16,000 signatures from registered San Francisco voters in support of a ballot measure that would require a study of how to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and replace the water lost with other means.
Restore Hetch Hetchy quotes naturalist John Muir as saying the Hetch Hetchy Valley is “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.”
The battle over Hetch Hetchy Valley is not new. The debate began in 1913 when the city of San Francisco won congressional approval to build O’Shaughnessy Dam, which buried the wilderness valley under some 300 feet of water ten years later, in 1923.
A 2006 California Department of Water report indicated the valley could be drained, but the cost would be extraordinary: somewhere between $3 billion and $10 billion.
If the ballot measure passes, what's not clear is how 2.5 million gallons of water - especially in dry, drought years - would be replaced.
Hetch Hetchy also produces about 300 megawatts of carbon-free hydroelectric power for the Bay Area.
Several area politicians, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, are critical of the the ballot measure, saying the region can't afford to drain the reservoir.
Restore Hetch Hetchy counters by stating "Modern engineering advances afford us the opportunity to remove the reservoir and create one of the most ambitious and exciting environmental restoration projects in human history. As a living laboratory, Hetch Hetchy will advance the science of restoration by providing biologists, ecologists and botanists from all over the world with the chance to apply cutting-edge science to re-establishing lost habitats."
What do you think? Should the Hetch Hetchy Valley be restored to its original state, and add to the beauty of Yosemite? Or is this a bad idea in this day of few dollars and large water needs?
Tell us in your comments, then vote in the poll below.