Documentary on SF’s Water System Earns Emmy Nominations

Water from the Wilderness: Hetch Hetchy to San Francisco Bay, a SFPUC-produced documentary focusing on the creation of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and San Francisco’s unique regional water and power system has been nominated for two regional Emmy Award categories: Cultural/Historical Documentary and Writing.

M.M. O’Shaughnessy. Spring Valley Water Company Portraits, Executives and Staff Members, Unidentified 4×5 Glass Plates, M.M. O’Shaughnessy. City Engineer.

The 60-minute documentary details the early history and controversy about the plan to bring much-needed drinking water to the Bay Area, and the continuing challenges now facing the region with climate change. Featuring beautiful aerial shots of the reservoir, historical images and insights from SFPUC officials, the documentary brings a unique perspective on the ways an urban water utility, and the many people who depend on it, are learning to adapt and plan for an uncertain future impacted by natural disasters and climate change.

The film traces the pioneering efforts of San Francisco leaders to create a reliable water supply for the City’s residents and the visionary planning of Michael O’Shaughnessy, who engineered the eponymous dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. In addition, the documentary highlights opposition to the project from famed naturalist John Muir, and the eventual creation of the SFPUC to oversee the regional system.

The regional system provides clean drinking water to 2.7 million Bay Area residents, along with generating greenhouse-gas free hydroelectric power for San Francisco’s streetlights, Muni vehicles, schools, City Hall, the San Francisco Zoo, the San Francisco International Airport and more.

The documentary was directed and produced by Jim Yager, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning independent producer with more than 25 years of experience in broadcast production and marketing.