Date: December 15, 2004
'lake': Bird watchers' paradise
by Wilfredo Rodolfo III
politicians bicker, migratory birds 'build homes' in the area
While politicians continue bickering over the "sinking" portion
of the South Reclamation Project, migratory birds have flocked
to and settled in the controversial area.
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines has named "this lake
beside the road" at the SRP as "an ideal urban bird-watching
"The South Reclamation Project in Cebu is a bone of contention
between the local governments of Talisay and Cebu cities.
Regardless of who will finally have jurisdiction over the
place, the birds have already settled in the grasslands and
lakes created within the reclaimed area," said the group's
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osme-a is blaming the administration
of former mayor Alvin Garcia for pocketing funds that should
have been used to fill up the sunken portion of the SRP, just
beside the Cebu South Coastal Road near Kawit.
Garcia, on the other hand, is blaming Osme-a for "not consulting
his consultants," saying water is supposed to accumulate there
because of special drainage mechanisms that bring water from
under the reclamation to the surface.
The reclamation project started and ended under Garcia's term,
from 1995 to 2001.
According to WBCP, there are 22 bird species that have found
refuge in the knee-deep "lake," which started accumulating
water since work on the SRP ended in 2001.
Ardent bird watchers, Nilo Arribas Jr., Louie Palang and Ronald
Tantuico are keeping a close watch on the migratory birds.
Among the birds that can be seen in the area are yellow wagtails,
sand pipers, brown shrikes, and other birds that have stayed
from their usual migration route in Cordova and Olango.
The city government is already planning to excavate dirt from
the lake to create an attraction.
SRP project manager Nigel Paul Villarete said the flooded
area only had an elevation of 2.7 meters above sea level,
lower by about half a meter than the 3.2-meter standard for
the rest of the site.
But Samuel Darza, the SRP project manager during the term
of Garcia, explained that the flooded portion was actually
surrounded by "paper vertical drain," which took water from
the bottom of the reclamation site to the surface.
PVD is a half-foot wide paper strip buried deep in the reclamation
area and the seabed.
He further explained that directly below the flooded portion
was 27 feet of mud, accumulated for hundreds of years by the
Bulacao river, whose mouth opened into the SRP.
"They did not answer the basic question on why water accumulated
there? If SRP is indeed level throughout, there should be
no accumulation of water in one portion only," Villarete countered.