San Francisco pitches plan for future of California rivers

San Francisco Chronicle –

For decades, San Francisco has been blissfully removed from California’s water wars. The city’s pristine reservoirs in and around Yosemite National Park have been not only plentiful but also largely outside the reach of regulators.

But plans by the state to mandate an increase in the amount of water flowing down rivers between the Sierra and San Francisco Bay — a bid to prevent the collapse of some of California’s most precious wetlands — has drawn the city into the fray.

Worried about having to relinquish too much reservoir water and saddle Bay Area customers with restrictions on their taps, San Francisco officials plan to unveil a counterproposal Friday that they say restores river habitat and helps fish while maintaining water for cities and farms.

The proposal, shared with The Chronicle, calls for forfeiting city water supplies on the Tuolumne River, but only when deemed necessary to protect salmon and steelhead. It also calls for rehabilitating parts of the 149-mile river for the benefit of wildlife. The plan already has sparked an unusual alliance between San Francisco and the Central Valley agricultural communities along the Tuolumne.

Read more