Every morning when you wake up, go to the bathroom and turn on the faucet to brush your teeth, water comes out. Right away, every time. That is pretty amazing if you stop to think about it. Have you considered the journey that water took to get to you? In many cases, it has traveled hundreds of miles to arrive at your tap. Let’s consider our water here at WaterSmart HQ in San Francisco as an example. When Dave goes to the sink to fill up the pot to make coffee in the morning, where does that water come from? What does a day in the life of our water look like?
In our case, the day starts out in the beautiful Tuolumne Meadows, in Yosemite National Park. Water flows lazily down the Tuolumne River, gaining speed as it dips down into Hetch Hetchy Valley. It stops short in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, its path impeded by the 430-foot high concrete blockade that is O’Shaughnessy Dam. The water will rest in the reservoir until it is eventually released into the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct, and continues its journey westward. The water in the Aqueduct will take a tangent to circulate through two hydropower plants on its way, Kirkwood Powerhouse and Moccasin Powerhouse. There it will generate up to 200,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity every day, energy that will be fed into the grid serving all of the Bay Area.
After performing that service, the water is tunneled west under the San Francisco Bay and then north up the Peninsula to the City, its flow completely powered by gravity. The water then gets cleaned, treated and fluoridated before being piped right to our tap here at 20 California, having taken a 160-mile journey to get to us. That’s a day in the life of our water, and the water of 2.6 million other people living in the Bay Area. What does a day in the life of your water look like?