SFPUC LACKS CLEAR POLICY ON HETCH HETCHY
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) had their first WorkShop to better understand the Capitol Improvement Project linked to repair, upgrade, and maintenance of the Hetch Hetchy Project and related facilities. It was held Oct 26, 2004 in Room 201 - City Hall.
We all know that in the past millions of dollars from the City's General Fund - generated by the Hetch Hetchy operations were spent by the City and County of San Francisco. That was wrong and has come to haunt us now. No concrete repairs were done on the system that shows an average 75 age that is precarious to say the least. The system should be over hauled every 30 years to maintain some semblance.
Right now the over $4 billion bonds from the Bay Area counties and San Francisco should focus on those areas of the Hetch Hetchy that can fall prey to any Earthquake. However tied to the damage that may result from any Earthquake are other critical issues all of them relevant. Among them Supply and Demand.
Right now most of the consultants are White and do not live in the City and County of San Francisco. Many of the Whites attending the workshop had nothing much to say - the reason is simple they are far away from the project and are closer to the project to make some money. Hence the silence from the mostly Whip Cream audience. I saw no people of color - not one single Black! Shame.
The SFPUC has no Blue Print in detail that focuses on Supply. It has no Blue Print in detail that focuses on Demand. Some fake statistics shown show the constituents of San Francisco conserving water. It shows the constituents from the suburbs wasting water or using more water because of swimming pools, more bathrooms, and generally greater usage of water then the average San Franciscan. IBM and other such companies consume a lot of fresh, clean water without cholormine. The companies use millions of gallons of clean fresh water and pay for it with a rebate! Time to charge these companies more for water. The Raker Act has certain mandates that have not been visited in years. Over the year Tulare County and some politicians have tweaked the system, the law and exploited the situation.
Pacific Gas and Electric has fleeced many constituent by over charging constituents who use power generated by the Hetch Hetchy system. The policy makers and some SFPU Commissioners like Richard Sklar talk the talk but cannot walk the walk.
It is not sufficient to know some general issues about the system - we need solutions. At one time Richard Sklar knew the City and County of San Francisco tapped into the General Funds and into funds that belonged to SFPUC for maintenance. Did he do anything about that? Today, he is singing a different song. He talks too much and should permit the constituents and the other experts express themselves. We know all the deals he has cut doing some environmental work. It is there in the open and one can find out more if one wants to.
The SFPUC lacks a clear Blue Print on Demand. We cannot build thousands of housing units and not figure the consumption into the equation when it comes to supply. Mayor Gavin Newsom has plans to build 15,000 housing units all over the City and County of San Francisco. Where will we get the water from? Where will we get the electricity from? Where will all the sewage go to?
As you can clearly see the electricity, sewage, and clean water all fall within the purview of the SFPUC. The SFPUC looks at issues without taking the broad overview. They have no bird's eye view of all the major issues that are tied in.
Repairing, upgrading, and replacing the Hetch Hetchy system is complicated. We do have the talent but we have no Blue Print to have in place - the best Environmental Assessment to view the project so that certain parts can be brought on line - especially in those areas that are more earthquake prone. SFPUC has a timeline to adhere to and the language was created by Sacramento and forced upon SFPUC by the constituents from the neighboring counties that have contributed $2 billion to the SFPUC, Capitol Improvement Project (CIP). So far the Counties have not played an important role by contributing their ideas, dialog - but there will be a point when San Franciscans and the Counties should join hands to contribute the best of ideas from the best of minds. SFPU Commissioner can then listen, ponder, and act.
The best ideas so far have not come from the SFPU Commissioners. They do have the ability to talk without impunity and at length without time limits. When it comes to the PUBLIC we are limited to two minutes or at the most 3 minutes. Where is the justice on a project that will cost over $4 billion and paid by the constituents? Who are these bureaucrats to try to attempt to address with no engineering qualifications? After all the entire core upgrade and replacement are engineering projects?
I see so many vultures all waiting to vie for the pie that is the $4 billion project. Most of the vultures are White and have no connection with the City and County of San Francisco or the Bay Area. The SFPUC can waste money on consultants up to $100,000 with any bid. I know of a couple of so called consultants who have got $70,000, $80,000 for contributing next to nothing.
The SFPUC has a $100 million Solar Bond that was passed by a Proposition by the constituents of San Francisco. I have seen the machinations to grab this money. PowerLight a company from the East Bay has won every Solar Contract and this is wrong. It is would be prudent for the City Controller to review the contracts? Find out how the bids were offered? How much time was given to prospective contractors to reply? How was the orientation done? Solar Power is here to stay - it is clean power but the politics around Solar should not be dirty. The same with the $4 billion Hetch Hetchy projects. Hetch Hetchy Valley once belonged to the Miwoks. The land and the resources were stolen from them. Today, SFPUC has control of the resources and it is not for the SFPUC to expand the resources without discerning.
The workshop mentioned conservation, the watershed, salination projects, impending droughts, reservoirs, and some critical issues. The workshop tried to set the tone and I hope the result will be a clear Blue Print. We should define " Supply" and " Demand". We should define Standards and the Use of water with conservation in mind.
Susan Leal and the SFPUC can learn as long as they have time on their side. It is critical to involve the Public at Large they after all pay for everything - including the SFPUC who talk the talk but the public would prefer them to walk the walk.