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District of Muskoka and Muskoka Lakes investigating Marriott sewage issues

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MINETT, ON- The District of Muskoka is taking a look at sewage issues at a major Muskoka resort.

According to an order from the Ontario environment ministry issued to the JW Marriot Muskoka Resort and Spa in Minett on August 2nd, there have been multiple issues with the resort’s sewage system since 2015.

Those issues have included what are described as several raw sewage spills in July of 2015, two in July of 2018, and two this year on June 30th and July 1st.

The newsroom has spoken to the resort about those issues, which can be read about here:

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A new announcement from the District of Muskoka states that both the district and the Township of Muskoka Lakes are “investigating and facilitating information sharing” in the wake of the order.

“The District and the Township commend the Ministry for taking steps to protect residents and visitors to the area by addressing the non-compliance through the Provincial Officer’s Order,”  said District Chair John Klinck, in the announcement.

“We have requested that the Ministry remain vigilant to ensure compliance is fully addressed by the private system’s owner and operator.”

Muskoka Lakes mayor Phil Harding is quoted in the release, stating that the district has requested regular communication from the provincial environment ministry to both district and township staff to confirm compliance by the resort.

“Both District and Township Councils recognize that it is important to provide assurances to the public that all levels of government are working together to protect Lake Rosseau from adverse environmental impacts while a permanent solution is identified and implemented,” said Harding, in the announcement.

The Order directs the resort to do the following:

  • Increased requirements for operational oversight including increased monitoring and reporting and the use of appropriately licensed operators.
  • Requirement to enter into a contract for off-site disposal at an approved treatment facility.
  • Weekly reporting to the MECP of key effluent and other parameters; and
  • An extensive review and assessment of the sewage works by a qualified person by September 30, 2019.

The announcement also had additional details on actions taken by the district in the wake of the order.

“Meetings were held with senior officials at the MECP to be fully briefed on the Order, to request updates on the outcome of the Order, and to receive assurances that the Ministry was doing everything possible to address the concern,” said the announcement.

“By way of a letter, District Chair Klinck raised the importance of the Muskoka watershed issue with MECP Minister Jeff Yurek and requested the Ministry’s full cooperation in keeping the District and Township informed. Chair Klinck and Mayor Harding also met in person with the Minister.”

The announcement states that Dr. Charles Gardner, the Medical Officer of Health for Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, confirmed that the latest spill was removed with no impacts to recreational, drinking water, or the land, with no public health issues to be addressed.

A meeting with the parties named in the order, including resort ownership, has been set up for the district to be told about how the matter will be handled moving forward.

“Staff have reviewed water quality monitoring data in Wallace Bay for the month of July and August to date,” the end of the announcement reads.

“The data confirms that there were increased levels of coliform, E.coli and phosphorus following the incident.”

More information is expected in the coming weeks, and both the district and Muskoka Lakes will be closely monitoring the situation.

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