FARMINGTON — All schools in Regional School Unit 9 were closed Friday due to elevated levels of lead in water fixtures.

Superintendent Chris Elkington said that late Thursday afternoon the district “received the results of the water testing we had completed at the end of March,” according to a letter shared on the district’s Facebook page late Thursday night.

The letter states that 54 of 117 water fixtures (approximately 46%) tested in all district schools exceeded Maine guidelines under LD 153, An Act to Strengthen Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water.

The Press Herald reports that Maine has set an acceptable lead limit of 4 parts per billion — stricter than the federal standard of 15 ppb.

According to the letter and state law:

• “Lead levels over 4 ppb now exceed Maine’s new guidelines and are recommended for mitigation or remediation.”


• “Lead levels over 15 ppb are considered elevated and may require even more aggressive repairs.”

Elkington stated that 117 fixtures were tested across the entire district. Of that figure, 63 fixtures were below 4 ppb, 38 between 4 ppb and 15 ppb, and 16 above 15 ppb.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and CDC “recommend that a school prohibit use of any drinking water outlet” with levels that exceed state guidelines.

In the letter, Elkington said administration “tried to come up with a plan to try and still have school safely tomorrow, but unfortunately because of a number of factors we were not able to make this happen.”

“It could not be helped,” Elkington wrote. The district is now “putting together plans to safely open our schools this coming Monday.” Administration additionally plans to share “more information … about our results along with all of our next steps.”

The results have not yet been shared on the Maine Drinking Water Program’s data table, where levels for each school in the state are shared.


LD 153 was passed in 2019 to require “all schools to test water used for drinking or culinary purposes for lead” and establish with DHHS rule “water lead levels, testing protocols, appropriate abatement and mitigation methods and public notification requirements.”

The timeline was extended to ensure schools stay open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, Maine school districts were given until May 31, 2022, to undergo lead testing in water fixtures used for drinking and preparing food.

Since the Drinking Water Program launched the effort Oct. 1, 2021, many schools across Maine have exceeded the acceptable limit for lead — with a high percentage exceeding the 15 ppb level.

As a result, Lewiston Public Schools cut off use of its unacceptable fixtures and made water bottles available in February.

It is currently unclear what is in store for the final month of RSU 9’s school year.

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