Victorian Minister for Water Peter Walsh announced that after several years of investigation and planning a $27 million Swan Hill irrigation modernisation has been given the green light.

Mr Walsh said the Commonwealth Government’s approval of Goulburn-Murray Water’s (G-MW’s) business case was a major milestone in a long awaited project.

“This project will modernise the irrigation system around Swan Hill, finalise Mid-Murray Storage works, and prolong the life of the Little Murray Weir – which is more than 100 years old,” Mr Walsh said.

“These works will generate about 2.36 gigalitres of water savings, which will go towards meeting Victoria’s obligation to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“The project will also return the Little Murray River to a more natural flow regime, while providing more efficient irrigation services to local farmers.

“This will also greatly benefit the Swan Hill city community, with the project’s second stage set to remove the 9.6km irrigation channel from the centre of town and replace it with walking tracks, bike paths and other public amenities that all residents can enjoy.

“Years of investigation and analysis have gone into preparing for this project but without the support and initiative of G-MW, customers and community groups we would not be at this point today.

“This project is a smarter solution to a complex problem and I acknowledge the work done by G-MW, the Little Murray River Landowner Committee and the Swan Hill Rural City Council for helping secure a great outcome for our community.

“G-MW will provide a direct point of contact for people who need information about the Swan Hill Modernisation Project, and I welcome Kyle Seibert to this role. G-MW will continue to work closely with landholders as detailed design works commence.”

G-MW will now apply for environmental approvals from the Victorian and Commonwealth governments. Construction will begin in 2014 and is expected to take three years.

The project is jointly funded by the Victorian Coalition Government, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the Commonwealth Government, with in-kind support provided by Swan Hill Rural City Council.

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