State water managers have ordered the city of San Francisco to stop taking water from the Tuolumne River, restricting some of the city’s senior water rights. The orders are part of a larger effort by the state to limit water use from thousands of water rights holders, in order to manage dwindling supplies during the drought.
The city says it may choose to fight the cuts and take legal action, as other senior water rights holders have recently done.
San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy system stretches more than 100 miles into the high Sierra Nevada, where pristine water is captured from the Tuolumne River in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, built inside Yosemite National Park. It serves more than a million residents in San Francisco and other water districts on the Peninsula and the South Bay.
Hetch Hetchy water users aren’t expected to see any short term impacts, because the reservoir is fuller than most others in California, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission can continue to draw on that water.