JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Barnett Reservoir officials are still holding water in the 33,000-acre lake north of Jackson to delay flooding downstream on the Pearl River, after as much as seven inches of rain fell in the basin this week.
The National Weather Service is still forecasting a crest of 38-feet in Jackson on Sunday morning, which would be the third highest on record. The river reached 39.58 on May 25, 1983. Areas that flooded on that day in 1983 should expect some impact this weekend. According to officials, many sites in the Pearl River basin north of the lake had already crested and were beginning to fall.
That water is still headed to the reservoir, where a peak inflow of 83,000 cubic feet per second is forecast for Sunday.
“We will hold off releasing the bulk of the water as long as we can to give residents time to prepare downstream,” said John Sigman, General Manager of Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, the state agency that oversees operation of the lake. “We increased our release at the dam this morning to 65,000 cubic feet per second and didn’t see much impact on the river. We will hold at that point for the next 24 to 48 hours with a close eye on the river and lake levels.”
The Reservoir’s level was 296.65 at 9 a.m. Friday, up over a foot in 24 hours, and is rising. It’s expected to climb at least two more feet by Sunday.
“The longer we can hold it, the more time people have to prepare," said Sigman. "At 300 feet, our emergency spillway would self-activate and would reduce the lake by 10 feet. We will have no option other than to increase our release through the dam to prevent that catastrophe.”
The PRVWSD will have sandbags available for citizens to pick up while supplies last, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Reservoir Park Road in front of the maintenance facility. Rankin EOC will also have sandbags available at 601 Marquette Road in Brandon.