The History

“The Pearl River Reservoir will mean more than any other one project for industrial and recreational development in the state.”

– Gov. Ross Barnett, November 9, 1962

The Ross Barnett Reservoir

As Mississippi’s largest drinking water source, the Ross Barnett Reservoir is considered one of the most important watersheds in the state. After years of planning, the Ross Barnett Reservoir was built in the early 1960’s to serve as the City of Jackson’s primary water supply. In 1965, the Reservoir reached average capacity, and that same year, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District started working with park planners to implement ideas that could provide free parks and recreation areas for people to enjoy.

Today, the 30,000-acre lake is used extensively for recreation, including boating, fishing, water-skiing, and camping. There are five campgrounds, 16 parks, 22 boat launches, three handicapped-accessible trails, and two multi-purpose trails. More than two million people visit the Reservoir every year. The 105-mile long Reservoir shoreline also serves as a catalyst for residential and commercial economic development. There are currently 4,600 homes along the Reservoir in both Madison and Rankin counties. The Ross Barnett Reservoir serves as a significant water source, a major recreational area, and a tool for economic development.