The Lafayette Reservoir is an open-cut reservoir for human-made terminal water storage, owned and managed by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). Completed in 1933, this was intended exclusively for EBMUD customers as a standby water source. In 1966 EBMUD opened a public leisure reservoir. It is located in Contra Costa County, California, United States, off California State Route 24 and a mile from Lafayette BART station. This year-round, day-use area is great for hiking, jogging, fishing, boating, and picnicking. The reservoir is at the boundary between Lafayette and Orinda. The reservoir is located on a site of 925 acres (3,74 km2) and stores 1.4 billion US gallons (5,300,000 m3).


Construction of Lafayette Reservoir started in 1928, as a dam system filled with earth. Enabled the fill very easily. That was evidently too hard for the clay foundation because the base started to roll downhill as the concrete apron was being poured. The dam officially sank, between September 17 and 21, displacing the foundation 200 yards (180 m) from the toe of the dam 26 feet (7.9 m).

The project had to be rapidly revised by EBMUD engineers, first by reducing the reservoir capacity to a third of its original size. Then they postponed further building by three years, to see if there will be more settlement. The change in design was evidently sufficient, and the dam was completed in 1933.

When the dam was reshaped, an observation tower built at the southwestern corner of the lake was left unchanged. The tower, therefore, appears too tall for its intended use. The top can only be scaled by scaling rungs of metal embedded in its side. Hence the tiny observation booth is almost always empty, and from oxidation, the ancient doors have turned orange.

During 1935, the Federal New Deal program Soil Conservation Service (SCS) began planting 5,000 Monterey pine seedlings at San Pablo Reservoir, many of which were to be used for soil stabilization on the slopes around Lafayette and other EBMU reservoirs. By 1940, around 57,000 trees had been planted around all of EBMUD’s reservoirs. The Monterey pines are at the end of their life-cycle after 80 years, and some are being replaced under a thinning program.


They can rent rowboats and pedal boats. If held atop a car (no gasoline engines), private rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and small sailboats are required.

A 2.7-mile paved footpath called Lakeside Trail is the main trail around the reservoir; the 4.5-mile Rim Trail is a more challenging dirt hiking path through the surrounding hills.

Picnic areas containing 50 or 200 people may be reserved for individuals, organizations, and businesses. Many individual barbecues and tables fit smaller groups. A wide play area offers children lively fun. The park has toilets and a fishing pier with disabled access and an adjacent car park.

Due to the mercury and PCBs present in fish caught here, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) established an advisory for Lafayette Reservoir. For black bass, rainbow trout, channel catfish, and goldfish, the advisory offers healthy eating advice.

Image courtesy of Jeffreymendel Jeffrey Nash – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

This interesting site is located near the following must-see sights in Lafayette, California:

  • Lafayette BART Station
  • Cross of Lafayette Memorial
  • Lafayette Park Theater
  • La Fiesta Shopping Center
  • Grizzly Peak
  • Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve
  • Lafayette Community Park
  • The Clocktower Lafayette

All of these landmarks are located just a short distance from our location in downtown Walnut Creek, Spaulding Concrete on Locust Street!