A Work Order based on issues with the sewage system at the JW Marriott The Rosseau Resort and Spa (JW Marriott) has been issued by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP) against the owners and operator of JW Marriott.  

Details of the sewage issues, including raw sewage spills as far back as July 2015, are described in this Work Order and Report, beginning at item 6 ‘Effluent Limits’ (page 13).  They include:

  • “The Sewage Works reported exceedances of Monthly Total Suspended Solids for December 2018, January 2019, February 2019 and March 2019. No reasons for the exceedances or actions taken to correct the issue has been provided.
  • “In addition to the other non-compliance issues identified during the previous inspections, the Sewage Works has reported several raw sewage spills in July 2015, two events in July 2018 the most recent spills that occurred on June 30 and July 1, 2019.”
  • “The spills on June 30 and July 1, 2019 occurred when the Sewage Works experienced increased volumes of sewage which overwhelmed the sewage plant and resulted in a bypass of the system and a spill of untreated sewage down to the shore of Lake Rosseau.”
  • “Historically, JW Marriott staff have ignored Provincial Officer(s) repeated requests to provide information and/or take actions necessary regarding the Sewage Works in order to protect human health and the environment. The current operations of the Sewage Works as well as the excessive volumes of sewage that has been overwhelming the treatment system has placed the local environment at risk as well as a risk of possible human health effects due to the potential exposure to raw sewage around the plant at the STP Property in overflow situations as well as the raw and/or inadequately treated sewage being discharged into the Pond Property.” 
  • “Raw sewage has discharged onto the ground at the Sewage Works which flowed down a steep hill towards the nearby Lake Rosseau, and adjacent to the marina (as shown in the attached figure) resulting in potential exposure to humans and their pets swimming or walking in the area.”
  • “In addition, the raw sewage at times, and partially treated sewage on an on-going basis, is being discharged to the pond and golfers could potentially be exposed to the partial or untreated sewage which could result in adverse health effects and exposure to pathogens and viruses, etc.”

The Muskoka Lakes Association monitors several water quality indicators in many locations across the lakes. The Minett area where JW Marriott is located has been in their “yellow light” category for several years, with e-coli counts above the average on our lakes.

Township of Muskoka Lakes has no authority over JW Marriott’s sewage treatment facility, since it is regulated by the MOECP.  We are encouraging TML Council to incorporate appropriate policies into its new Official Plan regarding the maintenance and inspection of septic systems to help ensure similar sewage issues are not repeated on our lakes, given the serious risk they pose to water quality and public health.  

See also the Globe and Mail special report by TU THANH HA on pA6 of the Saturday, Aug 17th printed edition. PDF version available here.