East Bay Water District Considers Buying Giant Cattle Ranch That Straddles Four Counties

The Alameda County Water District is considering shelling out $72 million for a fourth-generation, 50,500-acre cattle ranch — touted as the largest potential land sale in the state — to preserve water quality, officials say.

Much of the property lies in watersheds that feed into critical water supply facilities for millions of Bay Area residents, including Lake Del Valle, Calaveras Reservoir and Alameda Creek.

While no final decisions have been made, district officials and experts say the rare opportunity to buy such a wide swath of undeveloped upstream land — and preclude any future development that could degrade potable water — must be seriously weighed.