An internal audit reveals what went wrong with Whitby, Ont.’s Thermëa Spa Village saltwater pool in the weeks that it opened.

The spa opened on Oct. 9, and on Oct. 14, it was notified by Durham Public Health that pseudomonas and staphylococcus (staph) bacteria, were found in its saltwater pool, Källa.

It launched an internal audit that same day, led by its corporate team Groupe Nordik and in consultation with Dr. Roy Vore, a microbial physiologist who specializes in recreational water illnesses.

According to the internal audit, three factors led to staph being found in the pool.

The first was the broken valve on the Källa pool’s bromine erosion system, which negatively impacted the chemical levels in the saltwater.

Secondly, the pool’s ultraviolet (UV) disinfectant system had a flow switch malfunction, which prevented it from acting as a backup safety measure to destroy any leftover bacteria.

Lastly, the bromine puck – used to disinfect the pool, and believed to be more effective for warmer waters – could not dissolve properly due to the high salt concentration in the water. This prevented the bromine from acting as an effective chemical barrier against bacteria.

“In our 20 years of operation, we have never had an incident like this in any of our pools, and it is our intention to never have an incident like this again,” the spa wrote in its internal audit.


Based on the recommendations from the audit investigators and Dr. Vore, the Källa pool will now be sanitized with chlorine, just like the rest of the facility’s pools.

Groupe Nordik says it will also be introducing a slew of new safety protocols, including installing two chlorine sanitization systems, doubling the salt content in the Källa pool to act as “an additional inhibiting agent for bacteria”, and inputting an alarm on the UV disinfection system to sound off immediately if there is a problem.

A “laboratory-grade incubator” will also be installed, meaning the spa can more frequently test the water for bacteria on its own. The spa says it will be “the only” recreational swimming pool facility in Canada with an on-site incubator.

Now that the audit is complete, auditors say, with “100% certainty”, the saltwater pool will be able to reopen safely.

“We are committed to rebuilding trust with the public, and it begins by doing everything we can to ensure our guests are safe and can continue to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of our pools,” the spa said. It added publicizing the audit is its first step in showing its commitment to being transparent.

Groupe Nordik says it will start reaching out to all impacted guests to directly provide them with the audit’s results.


Dozens are filing a civil claim against the facility, seeking transparency from the business after claiming they contracted staph from the spa’s saltwater pool. Some of the complainants previously told CTV News Toronto they’ve suffered weeks-long ear infections and skin rashes.

The lawsuit alleges they got sick following their visit to the spa.

“We haven’t gotten an apology,” Jessica McKaye, one of the complainants, said.

Justin Linden, a personal injury lawyer representing the group, tells CTV News Toronto this audit “reveals failures at every level.”

“Everything that could have gone [wrong], went wrong,” he said in an emailed statement on Nov. 2.

“We believe [the] Court will find they were negligent. This was the perfect storm. It is now time for the owners to stand up and take responsibility.”