A large contract has been awarded for major components of the $120 million Sunraysia Modernisation Project (SMP), the biggest irrigation upgrade in the history of the Sunraysia district.

GOLD JV, a joint venture between Guidera O’Connor and Leed Engineering and Construction, has been appointed to design and build new pipelines, decommission irrigation channels at Merbein and Red Cliffs and replace the existing 1920s pumps at Merbein Pumping Station.

An enhancement to the project is also being made, which will allow the entire Merbein Irrigation District to have access to irrigation water 365-days a year.

Federal Local Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad, said rigorous value-engineering processes had allowed an expansion on the earlier plans for the Merbein pipeline.

“Earlier concept designs were based on replacing the first five kilometres of the main Merbein channel, which would have given about two-thirds of the district access to year-round supply,” Mr Broad said.

“But the ultimate result of the value-engineering process is that we are now able to do over a two kilometre extension to the Merbein pipeline to give 365-day access to all of the Merbein irrigation district.”

Victorian Local Member for Mildura, Peter Crisp, said the benefits of SMP also include community safety, water efficiency, water quality and local employment.

“The SMP is expected to create about 180 jobs a year through the three-year roll-out and provide flow on benefits throughout the community,” Mr Crisp said.

“I’m very pleased that the joint venture partners have indicated their commitment to using local subcontractors and companies, meaning there will be job opportunities for local people.”

“I would also like to congratulate the Lower Murray Water team for the great work they have done to secure this positive outcome for the Sunraysia irrigators.”

Detailed design by the contractor is now underway and is due to be finished by the end of the year.

Site work is expected to begin early in 2015, with the entire SMP to be finished by June 2016.

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