During the early 20th century,
Bay Area officials considered many different ideas for solving a variety
of regional planning problems, including a dwindling supply of fresh water,
congested roadways, insufficient means to handle trans-bay traffic, and
the encroachment of saline waters into the upper San Francisco Bay and
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In response, several visionary individuals
and groups developed multi-purpose plans for the area.
By far, the most popular
and well-publicized plan was the Reber Plan. Originally called the San
Francisco Bay Project, the plan was developed by John Reber, a former schoolteacher
and theatrical producer. Reber's plan would create two fresh water lakes
in the upper and lower bays by means of earth and rock fill dams between
Richmond and Marin County, and Oakland and San Francisco. Over these dams
would pass high-speed roads and railways. The Reber Plan claimed it would
provide 20,000 acres of additional filled land, increase the deep-water
harbor by 50 miles, and conserve 2,400,000 acre-feet of fresh water annually.
Critics pointed out the plan's destruction of commercial fisheries, increased
sewage disposal problems, adverse effects on the ports of Oakland, Stockton,
and Sacramento and flooding potential. Although it attracted considerable
attention, even that of the editors of the Saturday Evening Post,
the Reber Plan was opposed by the State of California, the Bureau of Reclamation
and the Army Corps of Engineers and was never adopted.