THE new Dungowan dam has taken the first official steps to beginning after a request was made to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
The department was requested to prepare the Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) for the Dungowan Dam project.
The SEARS sets out an applicant's requirements for submitting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a state significant infrastructure application.
The SEARs incorporates feedback from the local council and other Government agencies before being finalised and published by the Department on its website.
Construction of the $480 million dam is slated to begin in October next year.
A department spokesperson told the Leader the process would begin as soon as possible.
"SEARs for the Dungowan Dam project will likely be finalised in the coming weeks," the spokesperson said.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson told the Leader last week he was eager to begin construction of the project.
"This project is of state significance and to me is still critically important," Mr Anderson said.
"Limited rainfall around the catchments means we're pushing ahead with that pipeline from Chaffey Dam through to Tamworth.
"It's near completion, which is great and we are looking at doing early works on Dungowan Dam later in the year."
However, Mr Anderson would not be drawn on any potential cost recovery methods for the project.
"Just because we have had some rain and things are looking a bit greener, doesn't mean we can take our foot off the pedal," he said.
"It's about getting the dam built; my focus is about getting the dam built and getting water security.
"We will have those discussions down the track."