Built by the People’s Water Company in 1910, the Central Reservoir is currently operated by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). The reservoir was created from the valley surrounding a small tributary of Sausal Creek by hollowing out the watershed and adding an earthen dam. The present steel cover was added in the 1960s, and further upgrades and repairs have been done under EBMUD's ownership.
Landslides on the nearby slope of the Sausal Creek floodplain in Fruitvale, popularly ascribed to seepage from the reservoir, have been a problem since the time it was built. Major slides happened in the 1930s and 1950s, which led to parts of McKillop Road collapsing and eventually to the creation of William D. Wood Park.