Ross Barnett Reservoir

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Ross Barnett Reservoir
Ross Barnett Reservoir sunset picture.jpg
July sunset at the Ross Barnett Reservoir, showing the public fishing pier on Spillway Road.
Location Rankin / Madison counties, Mississippi, US
Coordinates 32°27′26″N 90°01′04″W / 32.4571°N 90.0179°W / 32.4571; -90.0179Coordinates: 32°27′26″N 90°01′04″W / 32.4571°N 90.0179°W / 32.4571; -90.0179
Lake type reservoir
Primary inflows Pearl River
Primary outflows Pearl River
Basin countries United States
Max. length 16 mi (25.74 km)
Max. width 7 mi (11.26 km)
Surface area 52 sq mi (134.67 sq km)
Average depth 12 ft (3.66 m)
Max. depth 60 ft (10.67 m)
Shore length1 105 mi (168.95 km)
Settlements Jackson / Brandon / Ridgeland / Madison
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

The Ross Barnett Reservoir (also known as "The Rez") is an impoundment of the Pearl River between Madison and Rankin counties in the U.S. state of Mississippi. The 33,000-acre (130 km2) lake serves as the state's largest drinking water resource, and is managed by the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District. The lake features 105 miles (169 km) of shoreline impounded on the south by a 3.5-mile (5.6 km) man-made dam and spillway. The western shore is bounded by the historic Natchez Trace Parkway.[1]


Named for Ross R. Barnett, the 52nd Governor of Mississippi, construction on the Ross Barnett Reservoir began in 1960 by MWH Engineering (now MWH Global)[2][3] under the direction of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District. The main purpose of the infrastructure project was to create a permanent water source to supply drinking water for the Mississippi capital city of Jackson. Construction on the lake was completed in 1963, and the water level reached average capacity in 1965.

Planning began to provide parks and recreation areas in conjunction with the newly formed lake. Today, the Ross Barnett Reservoir serves as a significant water source, a major recreational area, and a catalyst for residential and economic development. There are 4,600 homes along the reservoir in Madison and Rankin counties.[4]


The Ross Barnett Reservoir is managed by the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRVWSD), an agency of the State of Mississippi. In addition to recreation, the reservoir tserves as he primary source of drinking water for the City of Jackson's O. B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant. Water released into the Pearl River is monitored and controlled from an electrical/mechanical spillway and gate system that is part of a man-made earthen dam comprising most of the lake's southern shore. The maximum output of the 10-gate spillway is 170,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The target elevation for the lake is 297.5 feet (90.7 m) above sea level in the summer; 297.0 feet (90.5 m) in the winter.[5][6]


Each year over two million people visit the Ross Barnett Reservoir for outdoor recreation: types include boating, fishing, water-skiing, and camping. There are five campgrounds, 16 parks, 22 boat launches, three handicapped-accessible trails, two multi-purpose trails, and a mountain bike trail which meanders near Mule Jail Lake.[7][8]


  1. ^ "Welcome to the Ross Barnett Reservoir". Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  2. ^ "Work to fix Reservoir leak begins - WLBT 3 - Jackson, MS:". 2010-07-21. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Rezonate — The History". Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  5. ^ "Ross Barnett Reservoir: The Control Tower". Pearl River Valley Water Supply District. 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  6. ^ "Ross Barnett Reservoir: Press Releases". Pearl River Valley Water Supply District. 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  7. ^ "Ross Barnett Reservoir Multi-Purpose Trails" (PDF). Barnett Reservoir. Retrieved March 2014. 
  8. ^ "Rezonate — The History". Retrieved 2012-01-02. 


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