The impounded water forms Pardee Reservoir, the primary source of water for the East Bay Municipal Utility District in the San Francisco Bay Area. Like all the reservoirs in the Sierra watershed, most of the water originates from the annual snowpack in the High Sierra. The reservoir normally covers 3 sq miles with a 215,000 acre·ft capacity and 37 miles of shoreline. California state law prohibits human body to water contact within Pardee Reservoir, so water skiers, jet skis, and lake swimmers are forbidden, but boating and fishing remain popular activities. The water is transported from Pardee Reservoir across the Central Valley via the triple steel pipe Mokelumne Aqueduct to several storage reservoirs located in the hills east of San Francisco Bay which supply drinking water to the East Bay region. The water is also used to generate electric power and for recreation.
Both the dam and its reservoir are named for George Pardee, a prominent Progressive Era politician in the Bay Area who also served as Governor of California