AUBURN — The Auburn school district will hire a consultant to help evaluate and remediate water fixtures in its schools after half in Edward Little High School were found to have lead levels above the state’s recommended threshold.

Lewiston School Department maintenance worker Jamie Dubois runs water in one of the Lewiston High School labs in preparation for lead testing in February. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Recent testing showed that 57 of 115 water spigots and fountains at the high school had levels above the state’s threshold of 4 parts per billion, as reported by the Maine Drinking Water Program.

Water fixtures with lead levels exceeding the state threshold have been taken out of service, either by shutting off the water or by covering with a plastic bag, according to Auburn School Department Business Manager Mark Conrad.

At the high school, water fixtures with elevated lead levels may be be taken out of service indefinitely, as students and staff plan to move into the new high school in 2023. Instead, the school would provide bottled water, Conrad said.

Water samples from each of Auburn’s schools have been submitted to the state for testing, but only results from the high school are available. Conrad said the district will notify school staff and families by email and phone, additionally posting the information to the district website, when more results are available.

All Maine schools are required by law to regularly test their water for lead following the passage of a 2019 bill. Schools have until the end of the year to submit water samples for testing.


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.

Lead found in water often originates from solder or from brass plumbing hardware.

As of Wednesday, 15,091 water fixtures have been tested across the state, with 27% showing lead levels above the state threshold.

Of the 111 fixtures tested at Lewiston High School earlier this year, 35% were above the state threshold.

Amy Lachance, director of the Maine Drinking Water Program, previously told the Sun Journal that results from initial testing, like at Edward Little, should represent a worst-case scenario. Schools are asked to collect water from sources that have not been run for at least eight hours.

Water fixtures in the high school which had lead levels above the state threshold will be retested using a different method.

In follow-up testing, schools are told to collect water samples after the source has run for at least 30 seconds. These samples are expected to better represent the actual water that students may drink.

Lower results from follow-up tests may indicate that lead is present in the faucet or immediate plumbing; in contrast, similar lead concentrations could mean that the lead source is further within the school’s plumbing.

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