School cancelled in RSU 9 after district water fixtures fail to meet lead standards

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FARMINGTON – School was cancelled Friday in Regional School Unit 9 facilities after the district received the results of water testing and found that more than 50 fixtures did not meet a new state standard for lead levels.

According to a memo sent to parents and staff by Superintendent Christian Elkington, on Thursday afternoon RSU 9 received the results of water testing completed at the end of March. Those tests, which were done to follow a new state law that went into effect this year, found that 54 fixtures spread across all eight district schools did not meet the new state standard for lead: 4 parts per billion. Specifically, after testing 117 fixtures in total, the district learned Thursday that 63 fixtures were below the 4 ppb level, 38 fixtures were between 4 ppb and 15 ppb, and 16 fixtures were above 15 ppb.

Maine’s new guidelines recommend mitigation or remediation if the level is more than 4 ppb. Levels above 15 ppb are considered elevated and may require more aggressive repairs, Elkington said in the memo.

After receiving the results yesterday afternoon, Elkington said that staff tried to come up with a plan to have school safely this Friday but were unable to do so do to “a number of factors.”

“Please accept my apologies for this late notice, but it could not be helped,” Elkington said in the memo.

Today, the district will be putting together a plan to open schools Monday as well as more information to share the district’s next steps.

The tests in March were conducted in accordance with a new law, LD 153 An Act to Strengthen Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water, which requires the testing of all fixtures in schools used for drinking or food preparation. Tests had to be completed by May 31.

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