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Senate Approves Study of Proposal to Raze Dam

September 09, 1987|CARL INGRAM | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — In a direct poke at San Francisco, the Senate on Tuesday passed legislation authorizing a $100,000 study into the possibility of tearing down O'Shaughnessy Dam that forms Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.

The idea has been broached by U.S. Interior Secretary Donald Hodel. Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on the Tuolumne River is San Francisco's main source of water.

Sens. Quentin L. Kopp and Milton Marks, both of San Francisco, fought the idea of a state study as an unnecessary expenditure. Kopp, the Legislature's only political Independent, deplored the legislation as "wacko."

Kopp and Marks argued that the study, in effect, would constitute a barely disguised first step toward diverting water from San Francisco for ultimate delivery to California Water Project customers in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.

The recently drafted bill by Sen. Ruben S. Ayala (D-Chino) and Assemblyman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) was returned to the Assembly on a 24-10 vote for approval of major amendments.

Ayala and Costa are authors of bills stalled by San Francisco Bay Area and other legislators that would develop the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so that more water could be shipped to the south. Marks and Kopp fiercely oppose the Ayala-Costa legislation, largely on grounds of protecting the environment.

Hodel recently suggested that destroying the O'Shaughnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir conceivably could create a second Yosemite Valley.

The study would examine the economic and environmental effects of tearing down the dam or changing the operation of the Hetch Hetchy system by releasing its fresh water into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley and San Francisco Bay.

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