How We See It

Lake Allatoona Association
Lake Allatoona & Upper Etowah River Basin
Water Management Position Paper

After years of discussion, negotiation and litigation regarding North Georgia water resources and their usage allocation, the recent Federal Court ruling has created focus on the issue at all levels. Upper Etowah River basin flows and Lake Allatoona (Lake) water storage and water quality are clearly involved in the overall issue. The Lake Allatoona Association (LAA), provides this document to outline its position and goals relating to its long-term goals for Lake management and the current issue of water allocation.. 

As the community-based voice of Lake Allatoona, LAAs mission is to improve our Lakes water quality and pool levels through encouragement of healthy lake use practices. The LAA links a large number of like-minded people to positively influence governments (federal, state and local) and citizens (e.g. boaters, adjoining owners, and recreational users) who work together to improve water quality and pool levels. Focused on the two keys to improvement the US Congress and the US Army Corps of Engineers LAAs large and growing membership base is committed to push the Congress and the Corps toward positive changes for Lake Allatoonas benefit.

The LAAs positions are a direct outgrowth of its responsibility for leadership and representation of local citizenry interests in stewardship of the God-given and mankind-enhanced environment with which our community has been blessed. The LAA believes that the execution of a combination of the below outlined recommended changes could result in routine Lake water levels improvements with a two foot increase in normal summer pool level, held 4 weeks longer, begun 6 weeks earlier, and an 8 feet winter pool drawdown reduction. Shorthand for this overall program is 2 4 6 8, Allatoona Clean. 

This overall water level/stability improvement would support five important outcomes: 

Desired Outcomes

1. Increase NW Georgia water supplies. 

2. Reduce water quality degradation.

3. Improve Alabama River navigation water release capabilities. 

4. Improve Lake Allatoona recreation benefits. 

5. Continue to support power generation and flood control needs. 

This Position Papers following recommendations are directed toward the four entities which are critical to the Lakes operation and so-called water wars: US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), B. State of Georgia (GA), C. State of Alabama (AL)) and D. the Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA). Each recommendation supports and is linked to the above 

Desired Outcomes as respectively indicated in brackets..

A.U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

1.USACE Lake Allatoona operations procedures should be modernized and updated to provide for proactive preservation of the Upper Etowahs precious and limited water flows through more appropriate flood control statistical methods and practices to allow for less wasted winter wet period water flows and increased winter storage. 

2.USACE Lake Allatoona operations procedures should be modified to pay more attention and reduce the major exposures of barren shoreline from Lake level fluctuations. Improved practices should be implemented to better comport with existing state storm water runoff and sedimentation environmental laws regarding siltation and sedimentation control. 

3.USAC should modernize the basis for its rule curve assumptions to provide for more effective deployment of Lake Allatoonas storage capability through proactive rather than reactive USACE basin management strategies. These techniques should utilize modern computer-based modeling software to look ahead not back when developing discharge and generation plans. The Corps should use real-time actual local basin hydrology data and National Weather Service intelligence instead of historical averages when possible. 

4.USACE should conduct a modernized and multi-disciplined flood retention risk analysis study and report on the feasibility of increasing Lake Allatoonas vertical pool storage target levels geared to a 2 foot increase in normal summer pool level; held 4 weeks longer; begun 6 weeks earlier; coupled with an 8 feet winter pool drawdown reduction. 

5.USACE Lake Allatoona lake level management practices geared to fish spawning criteria at the expense of water storage factors should be modified. 

6.USCAE Lake Allatoona policies should be corrected to give proper recognition to the annual $250 million economic development benefit and approximately 2000 local jobs creation benefits that accrue from the recreation purpose of the Lakes original development. For example, holding to the Rule Curve would support this original purpose allowing longer use of the Lake during the year. 

7.USACE should provide significantly more transparency and real-time reporting in regards to: Altered Lake discharge volumes, reasons for such changes; Alabama River barge traffic utilization; coordination with Alabama Power as to water release cooperation, power generation costs, benefits and revenues; graphical-consolidated pool, discharge and inflow data to include USACEs Allatoona (Etowah) and Alabama Powers Martin (Tallapoosa); and lake water quality impairment practices. 

8.USACE should cooperatively work with GA and AL, involving the U.S. Congress, to achieve the above objectives. 

9.USACE should conduct a study to determine what the peak boat capacity is for the Lake. Excess peak period usage causes dangerous conditions and damaging Lakeshore erosion. As part of this study, the USACE should evaluate whether innovative marina and ramp usage peak period tariffs could mitigate such conditions. 

B.State of Georgia (GA)

1. GA should not consider nor allow additional inter-basin transfers that would serve to reduce inflows and/or increase outflows from Lake Allatoona not to Alabamas Tallapoosa basin nor to Georgias Chattahoochee basin.

2. Existing GA erosion and sedimentation control efforts should be continued and intensified within the entirety of the Lake Allatoona drainage basin.

3. GA policies should reserve and allocate Lake Allatoona water consumption to the region which provides for its existence through public-use set-aside of its 25,000 plus acres and resultant annual sacrifice of over $5 million local property tax base revenues (Bartow, Cherokee, and Cobb plus Paulding and Gordon Counties).

4. GA should work with LAA and other involved entities to maximize, to the extent practical, watershed protection practices, particularly for specific sensitive sub-basins.

5. GA should cooperatively work with USACE and AL, involving the U.S. Congress, to achieve the above objectives.

6. GA should work with AL to identify mutual benefits from equitable, efficient and effective

joint use of all regional river basin flows. 

7. GA should initiate appropriate and comprehensive processes necessary to ensure wise and efficient citizenry water conservation and usage practices.

8. GA should develop and execute a Public Relations effort to ensure that the facts regarding water availability and use are widely known. 

9. GA should ensure that any amount of water withdrawn from the Lake is returned after treatment to at least pre-withdrawal quality levels.

10. GA should consider placing a tax on boats by weight to help prevent Lakeshore damage by boat wave action. Monies raised should be used to fund Lakeshore restoration and armoring. 

11. GA (EPD) and the local counties should collect Lake water samples to determine areas with serious water quality issues resulting from leaking septic tanks. The State should pass legislation requiring that lakeshore septic tanks and drain fields be periodically tested and, if found to be leaking, require repair or replacement. 

12. GA should work with the USACE to implement shoreline hardening and other aggressive sedimentation/erosion techniques by adjoining property owners. 

C. State of Alabama (AL)

1.AL should develop an Alabama River Basin management plan that would provide for more effective utilization of the flows that originate within its borders rather than focus on capturing control of the flow that comes to AL from Lake Allatoona (over 70% of the water that falls or flows into AL originates in AL). 

2.AL should develop an Alabama River navigation management plan that more effectively deploys its extensive system of locks and dams to manage river flows presently provided carte blanch in favor of a very few beneficiaries commodity transportation options. 

3.AL should work with GA to identify mutual benefits from equitable, efficient and effective joint use of all regional river basin flows. 

4.AL should develop and implement a comprehensive Alabama River basin water conservation plan. 

5.AL should cooperatively work with USACE and GA, involving the U.S. Congress, to achieve the above objectives. 

D. Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA)

1. USACE Lake Allatoona power generation practices should be modified so as to be based on market-based electricity pricing models rather than the current method which only seeks to recover end-of-life depreciation cost factors. 

2. SEPA should provide significantly more transparency in regards to the generation of hydroelectric power, including the provision of online reporting of cost/benefits/revenues, hours of generation and avoided generation options. 

3. SEPA, the USACE and Congress should acknowledge that the initial investment of federal expenditures has been returned in full from over 55 years of Allatoona generation revenues and relinquish some operations oversight and control to local communities. 

Outcomes Associations to Recommendations

Desired Outcomes

1. Increase NW Georgia water supplies. 

2. Reduce water quality degradation.

3. Improve Alabama River navigation water release capabilities. 

4. Improve Lake Allatoona recreation benefits. 

5. Continue to support power generation and flood control needs

Associated Supportive Recommendations 

Outcome A. USACE B. GA C. AL D. SEPA

1 1,3,4,5,7,8 1,5,6,7,8 1,2,3,4,5 1,2,3

2 2,3,4,5,7,8 2,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 3,5 1,2,3 

3 1,2,3,4,5,7,8 1,3,5,6,7,8 1,2,3,4,5 1,2,3

4 3,4,5,6,7,8,9 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,10,11,12 1,2,3,4,5 1,2,3

5 1,2,3,4,5,7,8 5,6,7,8 3,5 1,2,3