River testing 'cart before horse'

TESTING of the Kalang River before remediation work was completed would be "utting the cart before the horse".

Interim chair of the Kalang River Working Group, Greg Bell, said the group had decided not to continue tests when it was known pollution was still taking place.

“We have come a long way in the last two years since the initial closure of the Kalang River and now we are in recovery phase,” Mr Bell said.

“We’ve identified the possible sources of pollution and these issues are being addressed before we enter the final testing phase.”

Mr Bell was commenting on the proposal to sewer the rest of Newry Island that Bellingen Council is putting to residents.

“Due process has been followed and we are working towards two goals: the first is to ensure there is no pollution in the river as is required under environmental protection legislation and the second is to get the oyster industry back in business.”

He said studies had shown there were on-site sewer management systems (OSMS) on Newry Island that were not performing as well as they should.

“Sewer is the only sure way of keeping human waste under control and with OSMS there is always the potential for failure.”

He said the Wallis Lakes, which had gone through a similar process in 1997, was a fine example of success after some hard decisions had been made.

“Now Wallis Lake oyster farmers don’t even have to put their oysters through the deputrification process,” he said.

Bellingen Council will vote on options for remediation on Newry Island at their March meeting.

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