Each morning John Johnson drives the few miles from his smalltown home in northern California to the Center at Pardee Reservoir. Nestled among the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the reservoir is a long 100 miles away from San Francisco Bay. But this quiet outpost is the crucial origination point for the collection of drinking water that will serve 1.3 million residents on the east side of the Bay including the cities of Oakland and Berkeley.
Rain and snowmelt runs into the Mokelumne River and flows into Pardee Lake, where it is stored for use. From here it is released into large aqueducts, which transport the water approximately 90 miles downhill. The aqueduct system is the second crucial point in EBMUD's network; in here the water is protected from pesticides, agricultural and urban runoff, municipal sewage, and industrial discharges it may encounter on its journey.
The Camanche Reservoir is the third critical point in EBMUD's watershed protection system. In conjunction with Pardee, Camanche provides flood control, hydroelectric power, and serves as a control for irrigation supply in the lower reaches of the Mokelumne River. While the Pardee's primary purpose is drinking water supply, the Camanche is part of an important habitat for several fish species. The Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery was constructed at the base of the Camanche Dam in the 1960s to revive salmon, trout, and other riparian fish stocks practically wiped out by mining and mine waste pollution.