Study examines Barnett Reservoir operations - - Jackson, MS

Study examines Barnett Reservoir operations

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By Bert Case - bio | email

The Pearl River Water Supply District Board supervises the operation of the Barnett Reservoir. The board has agreed to a new study on how efficiently it does its job. 

The big 33,000 acre lake, northeast of Jackson, does not get tax money to operate. It survives from money taken in from land leases and other sources like campgrounds and the sale of timber. 

The reservoir is like a city of an estimated 17,000 people, yet it is not a city. It is an agency of state government that spends about $16.5 million a year with over 110 employees. 

Dr. Marty Wiseman, who heads the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University appeared before the board that runs the reservoir and worked out the agreement to study its operations. 

"You have got a unique legal environment in that this is not a city. This is a management district. It's gonna heavily involve the citizens living here, public hearings to try to gauge what that demand for services is." 

The study will not cost the reservoir anything. It is being paid for by some earmark money Senator Thad Cochran got for Mississippi State University. Gary Hawkins, a reservoir resident since 1976, believes the study is necessary. 

"There needs to be some enforcement of the leases out here, because nobody is doing it." 

Reservoir manager John Sigman says he welcomes an outside look at a government structure that has been around for 50 years.

 "There are things going on here now that no one every envisioned, in terms of building and development, it'll be a good opportunity. We really look forward to some results of the study." 

A preliminary report is expected by August. 

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