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Publication Date: Friday, February 28, 2003

City joins Hetch Hetchy group City joins Hetch Hetchy group (February 28, 2003)

By Candice Shih

Last Tuesday, the City of Mountain View moved one step closer to working on a major, long-term problem: the supply of water to the Bay Area.

Ninety percent of water users in Mountain View get their supply from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, almost 150 miles away in Yosemite National Park. Its earthquake-vulnerable pipelines traverse the Hayward the Calaveras Faults, in addition to the Great Valley Fault Zone. The San Andreas Fault is nearby as well.

A major earthquake could put the water system out of commission for 60 days but "an outage of 20 days would be devastating to a community," said Art Jensen, general manager of the Bay Area Water Users Association (BAWUA).

The water from Hetch Hetchy supplies homes, businesses, and industries alike in Mountain View, a member of the Users Association.

To help provide solutions to the uncertainty of Mountain View's water supply, council members voted Tuesday to join the newly formed and more authoritative Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), with Mayor Mike Kasperzak as its representative.

"That's a forefront issue, second to the budget," said Vice Mayor Matt Pear. "It's very basic city infrastructure."

Because the Hetch Hetchy system is operated by the city and county of San Francisco, other cities in the Bay Area which contract with the city, including Mountain View, are using the new agency to increase its influence.

"This is a very very happy occasion for us to have suburban representation," said Council member Rosemary Stasek.

San Francisco and other BAWSCA members can now work together to pay for its $4 billion problem: upgrading and seismically retrofitting the aging Hetch Hetchy system.

The work to replace old pipelines, rehabilitate pump stations, build an alternative tunnel system, and respond to the threat of terrorists will take 15 years, according to Jensen.

BAWSCA, created by the state legislature last year, is authorized to issue bonds, a likely way the repairs to the Hetch Hetchy will be paid.

Regardless, "there will be substantial increases in water rates as a result of these improvements," said Cathy Lazarus, Mountain View's public works director.

E-mail Candice Shih at cshih@mv-voice.com


 

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