California is Burning!

The state is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in history with 1,000 more wildfires this year than last.

In March 2015, NASA scientist proclaimed that "California has one year of water left!"  (read article) .   In 2013 the largest wildfire ever in the Sierra Nevada, the Yosemite National Park Rim Fire, took two months to fully contain and seared more than 250,000 acres. Scientist say that Californians should prepare for a future of more Yosemite National Park Rim Fires, fueled by climate change, drought, and forest mismanagement. 

The San Francisco Peninsula Watershed located entirely in San Mateo County has been grossly mismanaged by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), National Park Service (NPS), Rancho Corral de Tierrra (NPS) California State Parks, Quarry-Wicklow Park (CSM), Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), Quarry -Wicklow Park Fuels Management Plan (POST) and  Mid-Peninsula Open Space District (MROSD) since the 1994 publishing of the San Francisco Watershed Management Plans Department Public Opinion Survey Report (POSR).


Summary of Public Opinion Survey Findings

* What watershed management goals are most important to the public?

Read 2 page Executive Summary:  PDF of San Francisco Watershed Management Plans Public Opinion Survey Report

The people surveyed placed the water quality and environmental protection first. Asked to say which goal of watershed management they thought most important.

  • 71% chose insuring water quality;
  • 21% said protecting the natural environment;
  • 5%, reducing cost to the customers; 
  • 3%, providing access for recreation and education. ( See Section 2.3)

* Does the public want greater access to the watershed?

  • 25% of the sample indicated less public access should be allowed than now (1994);
  • 60% about the same as now;
  • 12% somewhat greater than now;
  • 4% much greater than now (See Section 2.4)
  • A large majority (80%)  of the sample agreed with the proposition, "There are many other places in the Bay Area for people like me to go for outdoor recreation; the Alameda and Peninsula watersheds are needed for that purpose."  ( See Section 2.4)

* Would the public accept additional water treatment in order to provide greater public access to the watershed?

  • Over half of the respondents (59%) would not accept additional water treatment in order to provide greater public access to the watersheds. ( Section 2.8)

* If provided, how should greater public access be paid for?

If greater public access were allowed, the SFWD would have to raise money to pay for facilities, treatment, and protection to support it.

  • 89% of the  respondents thought the SFWD should charge user fees to those who use the watersheds, in order to pay the additional cost of access (Section 2.9)
  • 47% said SFWD expand revenue-producing activities for this purpose:
  • 23% would increase water bills to customers. 

* How much in higher water bills would the public be willing to pay for greater public access?

  • 55% of respondents said their households would be willing to pay $1 or more per month in their water bills in order to fund additional water treatment and protective services for greater public access.  (Section 2.10)

In the first year after the Yosemite Rim Fire, environmental losses are estimated to a range from $100 million to $736 million.  Should a Mega Yosemite Rim Firestorm ever rage within the San Francisco Peninsula Watershed  containing our Hetch Hetchy reservoirs system, it would deny not only the City of San Francisco, but  also deny 2.6 million Bay Area Water Users their only water supply for "3 to10 years!"  The Hetch Hetchy System is recognized as the most vulnerable target in Northern California by the FBI Terrorist Task-force.  In addition to the lives and property lost through such a wildfire, this preventable tragedy come with a minimal price tag of over $30 billion dollars per month. 

In 1994, the San Francisco Water Department published their San Francisco Watershed Management Plans Department Public Opinion Survey Report (POSR). Therein, 85% of a diverse group of water users determined the greatest role for the SFPUC was to limit access to the watershed, thereby restricting human degradation of the reservoirs and for SFPUC to act as chief authority in securing this resource.  This is a tried and true historical measure for protecting watersheds meant for large human populations.

In the POSR, the water users reported a willingness to pay $1 per month or more in order to secure the SFPUC watersheds on either side of San Francisco Bay. Because of advancements in multiple technologies, this goal is still attainable for $1 in 2015.  The San Francisco Peninsula Fire Safe Council proposes that the SFPUC enter into a Public/Private Sector Partnership with the California Watershed Posse to provide the 2.6 million Bay Area Water Users the security and vegetative fuel management implementation services in order to prevent the San Francisco Peninsula Watershed Perfect Fire Storm.  


Copyright © 2015 San Francisco Peninsula Fire Safe Council


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