15 Aug 19 - Source: The Irrawaddy - MANDALAY—The Mandalay regional government is seeking help from geologists to find out what caused a hole to open up in one of the rocky steps that form the Dat Taw Gyaint Waterfall in Pyin Oo Lwin Township, disrupting the water flow at the important tourist site, regional Minister for Resources and Environmental Conservation U Myo Thit told The Irrawaddy.
The flow of water has resumed at the major tourist destination after the hole was temporarily filled, but officials and scientists are trying to determine whether the development is natural or the result of human activity, and find a permanent solution.
The water suddenly stopped flowing from the second step of the three-step waterfall on Aug. 11. Local authorities, firefighters and local residents inspected the site and found a hole in a small pond above the second step of the waterfall. With much of the water draining into the hole, water stopped falling from the second to the third step of the waterfall.
The hole was plugged with bags of stones, allowing water to resume cascading down to the second and third steps, Mandalay regional lawmaker U Aung Min of Pyin Oo Lwin Township, who participated in the inspection, told The Irrawaddy.
"It is just a short-term solution. To prevent it from recurring, irrigation officials and geologists will need to carefully survey the area," U Aung Min said.
Locals said they had never seen the water stop flowing over the waterfall before.
"For the time being, the water flow has resumed. But we are not experts and we don't know the exact cause. So, we will conduct a survey with the assistance of geologists," U Myo Thit said.
The Shan Hills around Pyin Oo Lwin are made largely of limestone. The regional parliament will ask the regional government to cordon off the area and conduct a field survey to find out if the halt to the water flow was the result of a natural phenomenon like erosion, or caused by man, U Aung Min said.
Some residents of the area reported hearing a blast on the morning of Aug. 11 that sounded as if it came from the type of explosives used by fishermen, prompting speculation that the disruption in the water flow was connected to fishing. Residents of the Pyin Oo Lwin area sometimes catch fish using electrofishing or explosives.
"The Dat Taw Gyaint Waterfall lies in a forest reserve. If it were protected as an ecological conservation area, this would benefit not only local people, but also the local tourism industry," said Ko Kyaw Hsan Win, a resident of Anisakhan, a village near the waterfall.
However, as much of the forested area above the waterfall is privately owned by businessmen, there is a need for cooperation among locals and civil society organizations to properly conserve the ecological balance of the waterfall, U Aung Min said.
The 1,000-foot-tall, three-step waterfall is popular among travelers due to the panoramic views available from the top of the site.