The impetus for the creation of Allatoona Dam was the frequent flooding of the Etowah River, especially in Rome where it joins the Oostanaula to form the Coosa. Devastating floods occurred in the 1880s and the 1930s. The economy of northwest Georgia in the ’30s was already in dire straits due to the Great Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was keenly interested in putting Americans back to work and providing rural areas with electricity; a federal project of this sort was a natural choice. Congress soon took action, this being a multiple-state issue, in the Flood Control Act of 1941. A hydroelectric dam was authorized for construction on the Etowah River.
In 1941, due to America’s entry into WWII, dam building became a much lower priority for the U.S. Army and the Corps of Engineers. Dam construction did not begin again until 1946. Construction was officially completed in 1950, making her the oldest Corps of Engineers reservoir in the Southeast.
At a cost of $31.5 million, the dam created a 12,000-acre lake surrounded by nearly 26,000 acres of protected land. Over 460,000 cubic yards of concrete were used. Generation capacity is 82 megawatts, the electricity being sold through the South Eastern Power Administration. It is estimated that Allatoona has prevented at least $80 million in flood damages. In addition to a new power source, the dam created the beautiful Lake Allatoona, a vacation and sporting destination to between 6-7 million visitors each year.
Helping to maintain the beauty and health of the lake is the focus of the Great Lake Allatoona Clean-Up committee’s work and mission, to lead the lake Allatoona community in environmental stewardship of the watershed through education, preservation, conservation and volunteerism. Annually, this work involves recruiting and organizing more than 4,000 volunteers, primarily Scouts, students and lake enthusiasts from Bartow, Cobb, Cherokee counties and beyond. Last year this huge volunteer effort resulted in collecting and removing over 5.29 tons of trash and 299 tires from the shoreline. After the morning cleanup of the 270 miles of shoreline, each year the committee invites the volunteers to an appreciation picnic held at Riverside Park Day Use Area located along the Etowah River near the Allatoona Dam.
This year, the 28th annual Great Lake Allatoona Clean Up will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28. Check out the website, www.greatallatoonacleanup.org, to register to participate and for more information on how to get involved as a volunteer or donor.