Grand Western Restoration Ahead of Schedule

Issue date: 17th September 2013

Devon County Council has reported that restoration work on the Grand Western is ahead of schedule due to the recent period of dry weather.

In November last year, flooding caused a breach on the Canal at Halberton. Restoration work to repair the breach began in July and has so far focussed on rebuilding the embankment and the building up of the canal bed. Although the rebuilt embankment is within the existing footprint, it has been raised to provide greater protection against any future overtopping.

Material from the original embankment has been used in the repairs. The original material was mixed with powdered lime to improve its suitability as an embankment material. The process, known as ‘lime stabilisation’, produced a strengthened fill material that was layered with geotextile mesh to enhance the stability of the embankment.

The dry weather that has allowed the repairs to progress quickly has, unfortunately, caused problems on the Tiverton side of the breach where water began to evaporate from the canal. To ensure the waterway remained navigable, water was pumped in during August.

The canal profile will now be trimmed to the final shape in preparation for the instalment of an impervious polyethylene liner along the embankment, the canal can then be refilled and the currently diverted towpath reinstated. The repairs are expected to be completed by early 2014 but work will continue elsewhere on the canal over the following years to reduce the risk of a similar breach occurring again in the future.

IWA's Trailboat Festival 2014 will be held on the Grand Western Canal from the 24th - 26th May.