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Wet weather tops up canal

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: May 15, 2012

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THE recent heavy rainfall which has soaked Mid Devon may have upset some, but it is being welcomed by farmers and environmentalists.

Among those counting the blessings of the wet weather is Grand Western Canal ranger Mark Baker, who said the canal was well-equipped to regulate the level of water.

"The overflow structures and watercourses help emptying the excess water, and thus the canal looks after itself," he said.

When the rain was very intense in the last weekend in April, Mr Baker and his fellow rangers took turns to keep an eye on the water level in case they might need to open sluices.

He was pleased to report there was no major damage caused by the high winds except for the occasional fallen tree, a few of which had to be removed from the canal.

Unlike last summer it is likely the water level will now reain high for the summer.

Phil Brind, who operates the Tiverton Canal Company's horse-drawn barge, shared Mr Baker's view that the significant rainfall had been welcome.

He said: "What you have to remember is with no rain, there is no canal, no horse-drawn barge and thus no business. It is important to look on the positive side because even if during periods of bad weather there are no tourists in sight, there will be water for later in the year when they do come to visit."

Malcolm Randle, a member of the Mid Devon Natural History Society, said from the point of view of wildlife, wet weather was not great news for birds, but would be a boost for amphibians.

He said even if the heavy rains had disturbed the habitat of the riverbank's animals, most of them were able to adapt and survive. His main concern were the rivers swelling with water, mud and debris and washing away all the bird's nests on the river banks.

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