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Travel

Sunol Water Temple

I remembered reading somewhere sometime ago that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission was going to open the grounds to the Sunol Water Temple for limited hours.

Late this morning, on the sloppiest of new autumn mornings yet this year, I was heading home off I-680 through Sunol when I happened upon the open gates to the water temple. I couldn’t resist.

The last time I had visited the water temple must have been over 30 years ago — undoubtedly while I was exploring the East Bay backroads by motorcycle. Somewhere along the way, between then and now, the SFPUC decided they couldn’t be bothered — or afford — to keep the temple grounds open. The gates were closed. This particular water district certainly likes its privacy.

Now, amazingly, those gates are open from 9 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday.

Today, in this morning’s rain, I was absolutely alone at the temple. Just me, the rain, and the water below. The Hetch Hetchy water flows through the temple on its way under the Bay over to Crystal Springs to San Francisco and the Peninsula cities who — in this Cadillac Desert we call California — simply couldn’t survive without this flow. About 85% of the water used by 2.4 million people in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda and San Mateo counties flows through the Sunol facility.

Water falling, making wonderful noise, on a misty northern California autumn morning.