Commissioning of the Victorian Sunraysia Modernisation Project (SMP) has begun. The $120 million SMP is the biggest upgrade of irrigation infrastructure ever undertaken in Sunraysia, and will provide 365 day supply to the majority of irrigators for the first time.  

The key to the improved service is replacing channels with pipeline and the Project Director, Frank Fisseler, said system testing was now beginning on the new pipelines at Merbein and Red Cliffs.

“We are pleased to be completing pipeline construction and commencing decommissioning of channels in these two districts so we can move into the next major phase of commissioning the new systems,” Mr Fisseler said.

“Commissioning is the process of making the pipeline live, measuring flows, pressures and doing leak and valve‐testing to ensure the pipeline meets its designed specifications,” he said.

Mr Fisseler said an important aspect of commissioning was making the “cluster boxes” active, which provide growers with on‐farm irrigation supplies.

“People may have noticed what we refer to as ‘cluster boxes’ along the pipeline route in Merbein & Red Cliffs, their purpose is to link groups of irrigation customers into the new pipeline,” he said.

“The cluster boxes work by reducing the pressure coming from the pipeline and providing the water source for the customers’ on‐farm infrastructure.

“We are commissioning these structures at the moment, but for most customers, they won’t notice any changes in supply pressures or flows.”

Mr Fisseler said commissioning was also underway on new pumps installed at Merbein and Red Cliffs.

“We have four new pumps at Merbein, and others at the Red Cliffs B and C re‐lifts.  We are also beginning trials with these to ensure they all meet our design specifications.

“The testing and commissioning phase will ensure for our customers and our operational staff that the system, once fully operational, will perform in the manner its design intended.” “We are engaging with our customers during commissioning to ensure we keep them up to date on possible changes to supply.”

Mr Fisseler said once all areas of the commissioning had been completed, the new systems would enter a fully‐operational trial period.

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