Authorized by the Flood Control Acts of 1936 and 1938, Kinzua Dam and Allegheny Reservoir is one of 16 flood control projects in the Pittsburgh District. The project reduces potential flooding of Warren, PA., from Allegheny River flooding, and in conjunction with other projects in the District, substantially reduced flooding in the Allegheny and upper Ohio River Valleys. Since its completion in 1965, Kinzua has prevented flood damages estimated to be in excess of $1.2 billion.
The reservoir also provides water to be released during dry periods. These releases have the effect of reducing pollution and improving the quality and quantity of water for domestic, industrial and recreation uses. Flow regulation also helps to maintain navigable depths for commercial traffic on the Allegheny and upper Ohio Rivers.
Another benefit of the Kinzua project is hydroelectric power. The Seneca Power Generation Plant which is operated by a private company, has a peak capacity of 400,000 kilowatts per hour. The Big Bend Visitor Center contains displays which illustrate the hydroelectric process.