The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) delivers water from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in the Sierra Nevada mountain range approximately 160 miles west to the San Francisco Bay through a system of tunnels, pipelines, local reservoirs, and water treatment plants. The system serves 2.6 million people in San Francisco and San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus counties.
|Stars indicate where significant cultural materials were found along the pipeline.
The water system was originally built between the late 1880s and the 1930s. As it gets older, we must repair and improve it, and sometimes even build new facilities to replace old ones. In 2004, SFPUC began constructing the “Water System Improvement Program” (WSIP) projects to enhance the seismic reliability of the system. The types of projects include building new pipelines and tunnels, improving water treatment facilities, and others.
Among these is a new 21-mile long pipeline from the City of Fremont to near Redwood City, including a 5-mile tunnel underneath the San Francisco Bay, called the “Bay Division Pipeline Reliability Upgrade Project” or “Project”. This pipeline, part of the WSIP, will enhance the system’s seismic reliability.
The Project team knew that the pipeline would cross areas once occupied by Native Americans, specifically the Ohlone people (pronounced: O-LO-nee), and realized that Ohlone sites and objects could still be present either on the ground surface or buried below. Sure enough, construction exposed Native American materials at multiple locations along the pipeline alignment.
We have prepared this website to share information we’ve learned about the Ohlone people as a result of these discoveries. Read on to learn more!
Many Ohlone people are still living in the Bay Area and throughout California, and some were involved with the Project. We would like to acknowledge the following people for their guidance during the Project: Jakki Kehl (Mutsun Ohlone) who was assigned by the Native American Heritage Commission to serve as the Most Likely Descendant; Irene Zwierlein (Amah Mutsun Ohlone), Michelle Zimmer (Amah Mutsun Ohlone), and Garry Zimmer (Amah Mutsun Ohlone) who acted as Native American monitors during construction; and artist Linda Yamane (Rumsien Ohlone). Jakki Kehl and Linda Yamane also helped prepare the information and art on this website.
To learn more about the water system, visit our Hetch Hetchy System home page.
To learn more about these projects, visit the WSIP home page.