THE Deputy Premier has slammed Tamworth mayor Col Murray as "an ungrateful mayor" in an extraordinary, angry spray over water security and Dungowan Dam.
And John Barilaro is so angry about comments made by Cr Murray critical of water allocations from the dam, that he implied the New England NSW city could be cut off from future infrastructure announcements.
"I don't mind being here in Armidale today announcing more public servants coming to Armidale," he said.
"That sort of attitude by Col Murray means I probably won't go back to Tamworth.
"Col Murray is an ungrateful mayor. The investment that we have seen in Tamworth has been significant. The investment we have seen in water infrastructure has been significant."
The Deputy Premier and Premier Gladys Berejiklian visited Armidale and Tamworth today.
The spray came in response to questions by media about comments from Cr Murray that Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson could be in trouble if the issue isn't sorted out.
He said Tamworth Regional Council has a "biased" view with regard to a solution for the city's water solution, but said "let's take the emotion out of it".
"You're not going to win any love with me when you want to get out in the media and pretend the election cycle is the answer," he said.
"I tell you what, we're two years from the election. If we haven't fixed the water problem by then, I'll tell you what, Col Murray will be in trouble at the council election, let alone the next state election."
Col Murray plans to retire at September's local council elections.
The Mayor joined Deputy Premier Barilaro on a tour of Tamworth's Northern Inland Centre of Sporting Excellence this afternoon.
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Cr Murray is a supporter of the dam project, but is concerned about the rules governing how water will be allocated from it.
"There was a statement made early in the piece that 7GL [7000ML] would be available for the city ... I can only assume that would be 7GL in addition to the existing entitlement," he said, in January.
"I would suggest ... voters in the Tamworth electorate will have a strong voice and opinion on who might be the next local member [MP] if that allocation from Dungowan Dam is not appropriate."
It's not the first time the Mayor has questioned the enormous $488 million project. In August, Cr Murray said the project may not even benefit the city at all, if rules are not written correctly.
"The purpose of the dam was always water security for Tamworth, and if there's going to be very little water available for the city there's going to be a huge question over who's made the decision to spend $500 million on bugger all," he said, in August.
"We may not be better off than we were with the old dam that was council-owned."
The council has long called for changes to the city's water sharing plan, which governs water allocations. But the Peel Valley plan was signed off by the state last year without change.
Mr Barilaro told media in Armidale there would soon be an announcement regarding the future of the Dungowan Dam, but promised the project would mean better water for both irrigators and residents.