BARNABY Joyce has called on the state government to speed up the study that will determine the water fate of the Namoi and Peel catchments.
Earlier this week, the Leader revealed the NSW government was reluctant to fund any large water infrastructure projects in the region until it completes a study, which is due to be finished by the end of 2020.
The New England MP said waiting 18 months to see a report before deciding on a course of action was unacceptable.
"The study should be expedited," Mr Joyce said.
"If Sydney was in Tamworth's position, the study would be over, the bulldozers would already be moving."
MORE WATER PRESSURE STORIES
Mr Joyce said the community wouldn't "tolerate inertia any more".
"With all due respect, [waiting for the study] sounds like an answer from the bureaucracy rather than the government," he said.
"There needs to be a desire from government to be more hard-nosed with bureaucracy, to push this agenda along.
"There are billions there from the Snowy Hydro sale. Some of that should go back in to regional water infrastructure in this time of drought."
The New England MP said he would drive the issue from a federal point of view - there is already $75 million on the table from the Commonwealth to upgrade Dungowan Dam - however, "water is largely a state resource".
"It's a bit like renovating your neighbour's kitchen - you don't own it, so you can't just turn up with a builder, your neighbour has to invite you in," he said.
On Monday, the Leader launched its Water Pressure campaign in response to the community's growing frustration with the lack of action from the state's decision makers.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson indicated it was unlikely there would be any money in the upcoming NSW budget for water projects in the region, and local irrigators say they are suffering while the government "sits on their hands".