By UTE SCHULENBERG
JOHN Lindsay's assertion that septic run-off from tanks in Repton are a major cause of pollution in the Bellinger River is certainly bold.
But the Urunga-based oyster farmer reckons he's not far-off the mark.
"Plumbers back me up and in recent tests done by the Food Authority, the results from one site showed a 50/50 presence of animal and human faecal matter," Mr Lindsay said.
"These tanks are sitting on clay, so when it rains any run-off goes straight into the river ? and we only have the problem (of high faecal coliform readings) after rain."
Mr Lindsay said the Bellingen Shire Council did not want to see the cause being in Repton because it would require the sewering of the Repton/Mylestom area.
"There is no money for that. Whereas if the faecal problem proves to be animal, the Catchment Management authority has $21 million dollars to assist farmers in the fencing of rivers."
Bellingen Shire's director of health and planning, Simon Waterworth, said the council still did not have enough information to determine the exact cause of the problem.
"We are still waiting on more test results and until we see them it is hard to comment," he said.
"However if it is clear the problem is at Repton, then we will certainly be looking at sewering the area as soon as possible."
He said the council was part of the Premier's Department Working Group specifically set up to get the Bellinger River re-opened for oyster harvesting.
"The group was only set up a month ago. It includes a number of government departments who are all trying to solve this problem."