LEWISTON — In a letter to the school community Thursday, Superintendent Jake Langlais shared action items and addressed parent concerns in response to high lead levels identified in some school water sources last week.

Just over a third of the 366 water sources tested from most of Lewiston’s schools showed lead concentration at or above the state’s recommended threshold of 4 parts per billion (ppb), as reported by the Maine Drinking Water Program.

These sources were either shut off or labeled with a warning, Langlais previously said. Water bottles are available for students in the affected schools, which include all Lewiston schools except for Connors Elementary, Lewiston High School, and Lewiston Middle School.

These schools will be tested next week.

The district has already collected follow-up samples from each of the water sources which were found to have lead levels above the state’s threshold. Langlais said expects to receive these results in two to three weeks.

Some parents have questioned how lead could be found in Lewiston school water, especially in Farwell which was built not long ago.


“Lead has been used in solder to install pipes up to and perhaps later than 1970s by industry standards,” Langlais wrote. “In addition, lead was used for fixtures in all markets through the 1980s.”

Still, there’s no guarantee that items manufactured overseas do not contain lead, he shared in a previous conversation. This could explain why a newer school like Farwell, which was built after lead was banned from water piping and fixtures in the U.S., could have lead in its water.

“With the globalization of supplies, we can not say with certainty what is contained in the water in any of the spaces we get water from in any location including our homes,” he wrote.

Farwell had the fewest water sources which exceeded the state’s threshold, while Montello and McMahon elementary schools had the most.

If mitigating the lead becomes a long-term issue, the school will continue to provide safe drinking water in schools, Langlais wrote.

He said parents with concerns of lead poisoning should consult their doctors, but encouraged them not to be alarmed by the lead found in Lewiston schools waters.


“As a parent of two students in our schools, we are not calling our children’s physician regarding the water tests,” Langlais wrote. “I do not share this in an attempt to influence a personal or family decision. It is just to share that I have not seen anything in what I have researched that suggests it is needed.”

According to Amy Lachance, director of the Maine Drinking Water Program, about 30% of the nearly 3,000 water sources tested from school across the state so far were too high.

All Maine schools are required by law to test their water for lead this year, according to a 2019 bill. Lewiston is the only public school district in Androscoggin County which has tested its water so far.

Lead is a toxin which can impair the development of young children, especially those under the age of 6, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control website. Children are most commonly exposed through old paint dust, which is “almost always the cause of lead poisoning,” it states.

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