​Media Release

Certainty and productivity flow from water infrastructure project

5 November 2015

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, today visited Mildura to highlight the benefits that are flowing to local irrigators from the Sunraysia Modernisation Project. 

"The Sunraysia will be a vital part of our agenda to produce and sell more food. The Murray-Darling Basin is a soft commodity national icon and Mildura is our leading contender for its capital," Minister Joyce said.

"The Australian Government is providing $103 million for the project to provide greater certainty and productivity for irrigators and help secure a long-term future for the entire region.

"Maintaining the momentum of water recovery, particularly through infrastructure, is part of the Australian Government's commitment to delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan."

The Sunraysia Modernisation Project will improve water access during winter and underpin better water quality for more than 1900 local irrigators in the Mildura, Red Cliffs and Merbein districts.

Minister Joyce said the project will enhance opportunities for crop plantings, enabling the production of higher value crops and increased yield for existing crops.

"The project delivers a range of improvements, from upgrading the key pump stations in Sunraysia, to improved reliability and energy efficiency, to replacing 21.4 kilometres of open channels with low-pressure pipeline," he said.

"More than 2000 irrigation meters are being upgraded, nearly 2500 domestic and stock meters are being installed and we're installing automated channels in 23.8 kilometres of the system."

Visiting the property of local table grape grower John Argiro, Minister Joyce said he was pleased to see the practical benefits the project was delivering.

"The new Merbein pipeline came online for this farm here yesterday and Mr Argiro now has access to water 365 days a year," Minister Joyce said.

"With water flowing to farms in Merbein via pipes irrigators will receive cleaner water, with no more weeds, sediment, algae or windblown contaminants in the system. And less cleaning and servicing pumps and filters will save time and money.

"The entire Merbein pipeline is planned to be completed in a few weeks. This will mean that all 157 customers in the Merbein Irrigation District covering 1137 hectares will have access to clean water, all year round water.

"The Murray-Darling Basin is Australia's largest water resource, and we must manage it sustainably and with long-term vision to safeguard it for future generations.

"The project is part of the most significant water infrastructure programme in Australian history—the Australian Government is investing an average of around $2.5 million every day in infrastructure upgrades to support the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental outcomes."

Minister Joyce said he was impressed by how innovative and future-thinking Sunraysia's farmers were.

"For example, 27 farmers in the Sunraysia Irrigation Districts have had projects approved under a different Australian Government programme," he said.

"These irrigators were awarded $3 million under the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Programme to modernise their own farming infrastructure."

The Sunraysia Modernisation Project began in 2013 and is expected to be completed next year.