By: Graham Webster
After two years of being intrigued by the possibilities for restoring the Hetch Hetchy valley in Yosemite National Park ? an area currently covered by a massive reservoir ? Tom Philp at The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee finally made it his business in April 2004.
By August he’d put together a series of nine editorials proposing to drain the reservoir, which supplies most of San Francisco’s water ? a campaign that earned him this year’s Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. “I gotta tell you, it scared me,” Philp says. “It still scares me. It’s just a huge topic.”
At the Bee, which won this year for the first time since 1992 (when it won two), editorial-page crusades are business as usual, Philp says: “I am absolutely sure that more hell-raising lies ahead. Whether it gets recognized outside of our ZIP codes is certainly beyond our control, but this particular series kind of fits into a broader pattern of behavior that we’re engaged in.”
The Hetch Hetchy restoration might be getting off the ground. The state department of water resources is assessing new research suggesting ways to restore the valley and restructure San Francisco’s water supply.