After turning into a dry rock face cliff, water is again cascading down Cebu’s tallest falls.
Barili local officials told Cebu Daily News they have successfully diverted water away from the sinkhole located about 375 meters upstream the Mantayupan falls.
The decision to conduct a temporary bypass river away from the sinkhole located 180 meters above sea level was reached after local officials and experts from Mines and Geosciences Bureau met last Friday.
Water cascaded back in the 98-meter Mantayupan Falls at 3 p.m. last Saturday, Barili Mayor Teresito Mariñas said.
In the spirit of bayanihan Barili townsfolk especially those from barangays Mantayupan, Campangga, Gunting, Sta. Ana and Nasipit worked together in the river bypass at 7 a.m. last Saturday.
Farmer-businessman Contancio Tanchan offered the use of his back hoe for the river bypass work.
This enabled Mantayupan Falls to irrigate rice farms, water tilapia ponds, power a mini hydro electric plant of the Cebu Electric Cooperative, and supply water to 113 households in Campangga and 120 households in Gunting.
The river bypass is a temporary measure in preparation for a more permanent solution which is concreting the sink hole opening, Mariñas said.
“Hopefully the municipal council holds an emergency meeting before Wednesday to authorize the use of the disaster risk reduction fund for the Mantayupan sinkhole concreting,” the mayor added.
According to MGB geologist Abraham Lucero, the sinkhole connects to a natural underground limestone cavity exiting near the base of lower Mantayupan falls.
He cited two possible causes of the latest sink hole in Cebu province.
“A thin ceiling of natural cavern beneath the river was fractured by the recent earthquake and nearby movement of backhoe resulting to its collapse,” Lucero said, referring to the magnitude 6.9 February earthquake whose epicenter was in adjacent province of Negros Oriental and a reported development in the area.
The mayor said he is reserving his comments on the man-made cause until he reads the full investigation report of the MGB and the municipal council. Tanchan uses his backhoe in developing his mountain farm near the river that feeds the falls.
“The council is conducting an investigation. We cannot point our fingers to individuals. Our focus now is to address the matter in order to bring back water to the waterfalls, the irrigation for farms and fishing, and to normalize the mini hydro plant operations.
“In fairness to the businessman, he lent his equipment and personnel for free in our mitigating construction,” he explained. /Correspondent Jessa J. Agua and Contributor Rene V. Alquizola