Postgraduate Profiles

Brian Browne

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Thesis: Economic analysis of the Hetch Hetchy Water and Supply System for the San Francisco Bay Area

It will provide a history of the Hetch Hetchy System from a political-economy perspective. This will be the first major study that integrates the history with the economics and the politics to explain not just what happened over the past century, but why it happened and how it become an important contributor to one of the fastest and most important sectors (Silicon Valley) of the U.S. economy.

Why my research is important

The Hetch Hetchy System was created by the 1913 U.S. Raker Act that allowed San Francisco to dam the beautiful Hetch Hetchy Valley (twin Valley in the High Sierra to Yosemite). To this day the question arises: was the damming of this valley (with large areas of eminent domain) and the creation the resultant hydropower and water system the best and highest-value use of public resources? There are also questions about process. Did the complex regulatory models (federal, state, local) imposed on the operation of this System optimize environmental and socioeconomic outcomes? What changes in this system’s operation and governance must be made to ensure that it maximizes its socioeconomic impact on this region?

These questions and more will be answered as a result of this research.


Dec 2015

Dec 2018