CONSTRUCTION will start on the new $480-million Dungowan Dam before the end of the year and the state's Water Minister has promised its business case will be completed before the next election.
NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey declared the government would have the "job stitched up by 2022 at the very latest".
"Be assured we will have some construction beginning by the end of this year," Ms Pavey said.
"I'm pushing for earlier [then 2022], but I've got to take advice on that."
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Ms Pavey moved to allay scepticism the project was just a pipeline dream.
"People are concerned that dams have been promised in the past, but we will get this dam started," she said.
"Be assured that will be before any state or federal election.
"All government levels are working hard and working together to get this project done as quick as possible."
Water NSW head honcho David Harris said the state government had recently introduced new emergency water infrastructure legislation, which allowed the agency to streamline projects like Dungowan Dam and the Chaffey-to-Tamworth pipeline.
"The fast-track process allows us to deliver the infrastructure at the breakneck pace that we are," he said.
"We will be enlivening an engagement plan around the Dungowan Dam in the next couple of weeks, because we want to bring the community along with us."
In December, Mr Harris and Tamworth mayor Col Murray said they had decided to put a pin in the ownership discussion for now.