BARNABY Joyce has warned his colleagues that if Tamworth runs out of water, it won't just be a local problem; it'll be a national problem with the power to sway an election.
The city is still years away from running dry, with conservative estimates predicting that without any rain Tamworth has enough water for about two years.
However, should the city run out of water, it would fall within months of the next federal election.
"If Tamworth runs out of water it will be a national story and it will affect a national vote," Mr Joyce said.
"So to my own colleagues I say this: if Tamworth runs out of water it won't be an issue for Tamworth, it'll occupy all the media in Sydney and we'll have media crews here 24/7, watching trains turn up with water.
"That might still happen.
"But if you're not showing you're building more water infrastructure, that you've learnt your lesson and you're doing something about it, people are going to say not only is this a crisis but it looks like you've got no intention of ever fixing this in the future and you're blind to the problem."
The New England MP said Tamworth was doing "its part in water efficiency" and now it was up to the state and federal governments to pull their weight.
"Tamworth is using the same amount of water as it was in 1990, so it's doing its part," Mr Joyce said.
The state government has proposed spending $23.3 million on more studies to get the Dungowan Dam upgrade shovel ready.
However, Mr Joyce questioned the purpose of the study, given the federal government had already funded a feasibility study.
"You can have a study, but I'll tell you what the answer is going to be: we need to build a dam," he said.
"If there's legislation that's holding us up, it should be repealed."