Development Of Urban Water Supply

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In the mid 1800s, with dramatic, gray granite walls towering over flowering meadows, and graceful waterfalls plummeting spectacularly over granite cliffs, Hetch Hetchy Valley was not only a place of beauty but a target for the development of urban water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Water Project, an undertaking designed to deliver water to the San Francisco Bay Area using a unique gravity fed transmission system of elaborate tunnels above and through the ground, would ultimately become the biggest influence on the valley’s history, natural environment, and the area’s local economic development.

HISTORY AND BACKGROUND The valley name is believed to be derived from the Miwok word hatchhatchie, meaning “edible
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Parking is located approximately six and one-half miles beyond the entrance station on Hetch Hetchy Road. (GPS Coordinates: N37° 48.62 ' W120° 17.99 ')

Early Inhabitants
For over 6,000 years, into the early 1800s, Native American’s paid yearly visits to the Hetch Hetchy Valley to gather seeds and plants, hunt, and trade goods. Before the arrival of Europeans in the 1850s, for thousands of years, the Hetch Hetchy Valley was seasonally inhabited by Native Americans who practiced subsistence hunting and gathering. The seasonal inhabitance was likely due to the Hetch Hetchy 's narrow outlet, which in years of heavy snowmelt created a bottleneck in the Tuolumne River and led to flooding of the valley floor. During dry hot summers, people from native groups such as the Miwok and Paiute would travel from their native regions to the Hetch Hetchy Valley seeking relief from the summer heat of their native lands while also searching for seeds, edible plants, winter food, trade items, and materials for art and ceremonial objects. Meadow plants were particularly valuable to the valley’s visitors since they were not available in the lowlands. During this same time period, Native Americans subjected the valley to controlled bushfires which helped foster the growth of the meadow grasses and plants they relied on. This also provided additional room for large game animals and prevented forests from taking over the valley floor.

Initial European-American
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