Anyone who flushes a toilet in Wabush causes raw sewage — with no treatment or separation — to empty into a nearby lake, and neighbouring Labrador City is not impressed.

Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford says she knew Wabush was having problems with its sewage, but she didn't know how bad it was. 

Sewage from the Wabush Industrial Park already flows into the lake. A broken part has stopped the separation of residential waste. So everything is going into the lake.

"We knew they were having issues with capacity and we knew that they needed a new sewage treatment facility," said Oldford. "But we didn't realize all the raw sewage from the community was already going into the lake system."

Wabush Mayor Colin Vardy said the town's always been open about its problems with waste. 

Wabush lake sewage

Raw sewage from Wabush has been emptying into this lake. (CBC)

Provincial standards for sewage treatment

Oldford believes Wabush isn't being held to provincial standards for its lack of sewage treatment.

"We had to fill out reams of paperwork to go on bypass for a few hours," says Oldford. "So we're just trying to understand how that happens when you have other municipalities that are sending raw sewage there everyday."

Labrador City has asked the provincial government to monitor the situation. The city has also asked if there's a plan in place to curtail development in Wabush.

But Vardy said such a plan would hurt the town given the recent idling of Wabush Mines. 

Wabush Mayor Colin Vardy

Wabush Mayor Colin Vardy says the town has always been open about its sewage problems. (CBC)

"We still have people that want to develop in Wabush," said Vardy. "To ask the government to curtail development in Wabush is not acceptable."

Vardy says new development projects will have to build their own septic systems. The town will spend $200,000 to implement a mechanical separation of sewage.