ENGINEERS this morning began refilling the section of the Grand Western Canal which was breached by storms as the multi-million-pound project to rebuild a 200-year-old embankment entered its final stages.
A specially-designed sluice gate at Rock Bridge, Halberton, was opened at 9am to allow water to flow gradually into the repaired section of the canal. By 9am tomorrow the section should be full.
The canal was breached in a raised section near Halberton in November 2011, flooding acres of fields and raising concerns about the threat to nearby houses.
It has been estimated that enough water to fill 6.5 Olympic swimming pools or 100,000 bathtubs flowed through the breached section.
A Canal Rescue Fund was set up, Mid Devon District Council pledged £100,000 towards the rebuild and Devon County Council came up with £3m, saying the canal – officially a country park - was vital to the Mid Devon economy and the wellbeing of local people.
The rebuild began in earnest in May last year, and a modern compaction technique used to ensure the new embankment is watertight.
An official reopening ceremony will take place on Wednesday, March 19.