A Farmington-area school district canceled classes on Friday for all of its schools after high levels of lead were found in the drinking water.
Regional School Unit 9 includes the towns of Chesterville, Farmington, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Starks, Temple, Vienna, Weld and Wilton.
Superintendent Christian Elkington said in a letter to parents that the district received results on Thursday of the water testing that was conducted at the end of March.
The tests were done to follow the new Maine law — LD 153, An Act to Strengthen Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water — that went into effect this school year.
The law expects that “all fixtures in our schools that are used for drinking or preparing food will be tested.” These tests needed to be completed by May 31.
While there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, lead levels over 4 parts per billion 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.
Upon review of the results of the 117 fixtures tested in RSU 9 schools, 63 were below 4 ppb, 38 fixtures were between 4 ppb and 15 ppb, and 16 were above 15 ppb.
The 54 fixtures that did not meet the new state standard were spread out amongst all eight of our schools.
Elkington said school officials tried to come up with a plan to try and still have school safely on Friday, but they were not able to make this happen.
On Friday, school officials will work on a plan to safely reopen schools by Monday.