The NSW Water Minister's plan to spend millions on getting the Dungowan Dam upgrade shovel ready has been met with support.
Melinda Pavey wants to use the $75 million the federal government committed to the upgrade of Dungowan on a final business case for the development, estimated to cost $23m, and a further $38 million on an emergency pipeline from Chaffey Dam to Tamworth.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said the request was a "really good sign of progress".
"I applaud the Water Minister for doing what other previous state government ministers haven't, and that is to crack on," Cr Murray said.
"Council's started the procurement process of getting the geotech work done, which is one of the first stages that needs to happen.
"Getting a project shovel ready is a really important stage in any development. When you get to that point, you're getting close to the money. Until that stage, you don't know what the final cost will be."
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack will have the final say on whether the state government can use the money for an alternative purpose. Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said he'd met with Mr McCormack's chief water adviser in Canberra.
"I impressed on him the need to start the process," Mr Anderson said.
"We need to get the geo-technical studies in hand and this will start the Environmental Impact Studies, and have preliminary and final designs completed.
"We need to fuel up the dozers and earth-scrapers, it's vital we get the process rolling as soon as possible."
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New England MP Barnaby Joyce, who secured the $75 million when he was Water Minister in 2016, said he was "happy to have the discussion" about spending the money elsewhere.
"I want, though, to see big yellow things moving dirt, I want the access roads, I want the geo-tech work, let's get this thing started," Mr Joyce said.
"I believe there is a real sense of frustration out there."
Mr Joyce said his priority was new water storage.
"I don't care whether it's on the Dungowan, whether it's on the Mulla, whether it's on the Swamp Oak, but I want to make sure the city of Tamworth is more secure."