The lack of new dams in regional NSW has more to do with government decisions than environmental regulations and protesters, according to an engineering expert.
Coalition MPs at the state and federal level have pledged to remove regulatory barriers to building new dams in order to address water shortages that have seen towns run dry in regional NSW and rice production fall.
The Greens, who oppose building new dams in NSW and nationally, have been frequently blamed by conservative politicians for worsening the water crisis.
However, University of NSW Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Stuart Khan saidthat government budget decisions and a lack of suitable sites had held back dam construction.
"You have to look at the fact that there are no new dams being proposed by governments," he said.
"If you had a situation where the NSW government was wanting to build a dam and there was a whole bunch of environmentalists chained to bulldozers, then you would have a reasonable argument.
"Clearly, it's just and excuse. The only serious discussions in NSW about new dams has been at Tenterfield and that is mainly funded by irrigators."
Professor Khan said environmental protesters had proven ineffective in stopping projects even when their campaigns garnered significant national support, such as opposition to the Adani Carmichael coal mine.
"Water is a hot-button issue and people know we are running out of it," he said.
"Anybody who could be seen as preventing water projects would feel a lot of heat," Professor Khan said.
The NSW and federal Greens remain opposed to new building new dams despite claims by Deputy Premier John Barilaro that environmental regulations are threatening the region's future water supplies.
Former Riverina federal Greens candidate Michael Bayles said the party's opposition to new dams was "reasonable" as low rainfall would make them redundant.
"We are a dry continent and things are getting worse with climate change," he said. "We have got to look at better ways of managing water ... to say just to built more dams is not going to work, it's just going to cause more issues."
NSW Greens water and healthy rivers spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann said more dams "mean the death of the Murray-Darling River system with devastating impacts on downstream communities such as Wagga".
"It's madness to think that building more dams is going to save us from this record breaking drought when we can't even fill our existing dams, with some as low as 1 or 2 per cent," she said.