Why does the Pearl River flood if we have a reservoir that’s supposed to hold water?

Updated: Feb. 17, 2020 at 11:19 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A lot of people have asked the question: “Why does the Reservoir have to release water?”

Remember, the Reservoir isn’t technically a flood control device, but can help in times of need. The Pearl River, farther upstream, is flowing in a lot of water to the north end of the lake.

The past few days, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District has been holding back the discharge downstream to allow for more people to get to safety.

If you’ve ever driven on the Rankin side of the Spillway, you’ll notice this gravel area near Shaggy’s. This is actually an emergency spillway that will activate (open) once the lake level goes above 300 feet above sea level, causing the lake to drop 10 feet if it is activated.

Why does the Reservoir have to release water?
Why does the Reservoir have to release water?(WLBT)

Of course, this would send water quickly downstream and cause a rapid flooding situation, which would be even worse and, likely, catastrophic.

Call it a blessing in disguise, but the fight against Giant Salvinia has helped out in this instance. Since the lake level had been dropped to 295 feet, there was extra storage to allow for the water stay in the Reservoir for longer.

Saturday, the lake level hit 298.4 feet before the release began. No matter what, the water has to come downstream, the question was when.

We still encourage everyone to stay safe, use your best judgement and heed the warnings from local officials.

We expect the crest later Sunday afternoon or Sunday night in Jackson, and likely hold at the crest through Monday.

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