Reservoir officials remove 1,000s of pieces of rebar from lakeBy NIKKI ROWELL,
Efforts to rid the Ross Barnett Reservoir of steel reinforcement rods, or rebar, are continuing.
Since the water level was lowered in October, thousands of pieces of rebar have been removed since they were visible in the low water and the number is steadily growing.
These bars were placed by boaters to mark stumps or fishing spots, but because the water level fluctuates, they may not be visible until it is too late causing damage to boats.
Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRVWSD) General Manager John Sigman said the district is continuing its effort to locate and remove them.
The steel rods are intended to mark the stumps so boaters will not hit them.
“They are being put out to mark stumps or obstructions people don’t want to hit with their boat or to mark a spot where they caught the last big fish,” Sigman said.
However, Sigman said the rebar can be more dangerous than the obstructions boaters intend to mark.
“In my opinion, the rebar causes more damage than the stumps will,” Sigman said. “We’ve seen rebar slice fiberglass boats open and do about $5,000 worth of damage.”
Local boat shops have repaired thousands of dollars worth of damage to boats that have come in contact with rebar.
“Yeah, if you hit a stump going fast, you’re going to damage the lower unit on your boat. This is not a friendly lake. You shouldn’t be running hard outside the channels. The water level fluctuates and if you go out there and put the rebar in today, tomorrow it could be underwater, and you won’t see it.”
The district has received a range of responses to the removal, from grateful residents to annoyed boaters.
Some boaters have asked them to remove the stumps or leave the rebar alone. “There’s about 20,000 stumps out there.”
The thought of skiers hitting rebar on the water is horrifying, he said. “It’s just dangerous.”
No one has been caught putting rebar into the water or with rebar in their boats, but the constant need for removal shows that it is an ongoing problem.
Sigman encourages those who find obstructions or stumps in the reservoir to send in the GPS coordinates and PRVWSD officials will go out and take a look.
“We’ll go out there and look at it and mark it with a buoy if needed,” Sigman said.
Placing foreign material in the lake is punishable with up to a $1,000 fine.