The nations may have come to blows in the Six Nations last weekend – but England and Wales have united to build the Havant Thicket Reservoir.

Civil engineering firms Mackley, from Sussex, and the north Wales-based Jones Bros Civil Engineering have unified as the joint venture Future Water MJJV Limited after signing a £167 million contract.

The proposal for the first water storage reservoir in the UK since the 1980s was submitted by Portsmouth Water to Havant Borough Council.

Councillor Alex Rennie, leader of the council said: “Portsmouth Water is moving ahead with their planned scheme.

“This is the contract to deliver the planning application that was approved by the council for a spring water reservoir.”

Cllr Rennie stressed that the contract isn’t for any “subsequent plans” such as Southern Water’s water recycling proposal which has created “a lot of concerns”.

Irish construction company Ward & Burke Construction Limited will build the tunnelled pipeline running to and from the reservoir as part of a £41m contract.

Bob Taylor, chief executive officer at Portsmouth Water, said: ‘This is a major milestone for the Havant Thicket Reservoir project, and we are delighted to have these two exceptional contractors delivering the scheme.

“We were highly impressed by the proposals put forward by Future Water MJJV and Ward & Burke during the tender process, with both companies being able to call upon vastly experienced teams, with strong track records in successfully delivering major infrastructure.”

Future Water director John Dielhof added: “The scheme will safeguard dozens of jobs for our skilled workforce, as well as create opportunities for apprentices and trainees to kickstart their civil engineering career with us.”

The Havant Thicket Reservoir: What is it?

The Havant Thicket Reservoir will be an 8.7 billion litre winter storage reservoir which stretches 160 hectares across Leigh Park in Havant to Rowlands Castle in East Hampshire.

The scheme was proposed by Portsmouth Water and Southern Water to safeguard water resources in the south east.

In the winter, during periods of high rainfall, there is normally a surplus of water in the springs which goes over and above what Portsmouth Water is capable of supplying.

The surplus normally flows out to sea, but with the reservoir it could be stored, making water sources more resilient in the future.

The project aims to protect internationally rare rivers elsewhere in Hampshire such as the Test and Itchen by reducing the amount of water taken from them.

The development also includes the construction of a visitor centre/cafe with storage areas and welfare facilities to the northwest of the reservoir.

People will be able to get into the site from two routes, both leading to the visitor car park of 193 parking spaces.