Spanish industrial group Abengoa has been awarded a contract to build a 139-kilometer (86-mile) aqueduct to transport potable water to 2.4 million inhabitants of two states in central and western Mexico.

Sources with the National Water Commission, or Conagua, confirmed to Efe that Abengoa won the contract to build the aqueduct and provide water-distribution service for 25 years.

The aqueduct will run from the El Zapotillo dam in western Mexico through the Altos de Jalisco (Jalisco Highlands) region to the city of Leon, in the central state of Guanajuato.

According to Conagua, Abengoa "fulfilled all the financial and technical requirements" of the project by offering to build the aqueduct for 4.6 billion pesos ($346 million), far below the 12.2 billion pesos ($920 million) bid submitted by a consortium led by South Korean group Samsung.

The aqueduct will consist of a 134-kilometer (83-mile) gravity-fed stretch and another 5-kilometer stretch operated by a pumping system and will have a maximum capacity of 5.6 cubic meters (197 cubic feet) per second over most of its length.

The project will enable the supply of drinking water to 1.1 million people in Leon; 350,000 inhabitants of 14 municipalities in the Altos de Jalisco region; and 950,000 people in Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco state and Mexico's second-largest city.

Founded in 1941, Abengoa has operated in Mexico since 1979 in the infrastructure, environment and energy sectors.

Abengoa's industrial engineering and construction arm - Abeinsa, one of the group's five business units - was awarded the aqueduct contract.