Temporary dams stemming the escape of water from the breached Grand Western Canal near Tiverton have been successful after engineers worked overnight to regain control.
Approximately two miles of the canal drained through a breach in its embankment late yesterday afternoon following the heavy rain fall (see video).
The breach at Halberton near Tiverton is where the canal's embankment rises nearly 60 feet from surrounding fields.
Water overtopping the canal is thought to have eroded the embankment as it cascaded down, weakening its sides to an extent that the breach occurred. Stop boards and secondary dams of heavy ballast and clay, positioned either side of breached canal wall have been successful in preventing further drainage.
Water is now lying in a field on the North side of the canal, where there is no risk of flood to properties. The area around the breach is cordoned off to the public and the County Council is advising people to keep away for the moment while the embankment is unstable.
Engineers are monitoring the water levels in the lagoon and in the rest of the canal, as further rain is forecast this afternoon and into the night.
Teams today are ensuring that the two dams remain tight, and deciding the best course of action to deal with the water lying in the field; whether to pump it out or allow it to drain naturally.
Councillor Roger Croad, the County Council's Cabinet Member responsibible for the canal says: "Quick thinking and actions by our Rangers yesterday morning to start damming the canal either side of the immediate problem area did lessen the impact.
"But clearly with the amount of water flowing into the canal and the erosion of the embankment at that point, the breach could not have been avoided. "Thanks to all the teams and volunteers that helped through the night to secure the site. Work is continuing today and we are prepared for further rainfall."