In the mid-1920s, the rapidly expanding populations of Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, San Leandro, Albany, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Richmond and Piedmont faced a water shortage. The answer was Pardee Dam, which would create Pardee Reservoir, on the Mokelumne River at Lancha Plana a few miles north of Valley Springs. The largest dam of its kind when work began in July 1927, 153,000 cubic yards of rock and earth had to be removed and more than 615,000 cubic yards of concrete utilized. Named after George Pardee, EBMUD’s president and a former mayor of Oakland as well as governor of California, the dam is 1,337 feet long at its crest, 244 feet wide at its base and 358 feet above the river bed. The reservoir covers 2,257 acres with a capacity of 197,950 acre-feet of water. At 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 23, 1929, the first stream of pure mountain-fed Mokelumne River water from the new man-made lake began to flow, ensuring the future growth of the East Bay.
by Sal Manna, 2010