PARIS — Oxford Hills parents received letters last week alerting them that drinking water tested at the north campus of Oxford Hills Middle School last May showed elevated levels of lead.

Elevated levels of lead have been detected in some fountains and faucets at Oxford Hills Middle School’s north campus in Paris. Press Herald file photo

According to SAD 17’s Facilities Director Michael Manning, the need to alert parents is likely due changing standards at the state level and not because of an increase in the local water supply.

“We need to be very clear that nothing has changed in the schools where it comes to plumbing and fixtures, other than updating,” Manning wrote the Advertiser Democrat in an email statement. “These elevated levels are coming about because of the change in Reporting Limits by the Drinking Water Program of the State of Maine.

“The current Action Level for drinking water per the Federal Government is 15ppb (parts per billion). The Drinking Water Program of Maine over the last year has changed and mandated that is be lowered to 4ppb. This resulted in the last round of testing (with the new mandate) that there are many locations of water that are now above the Reporting Limit.”

The school lead law (LD 153) was adopted by the Maine State Legislature in June of 2021. All schools in Maine are required to submit updated sampling to the state by the end of 2022.

A number of schools across Maine, including in Lewiston and Auburn, have seen elevated scores for lead at different test points.


Manning said that SAD 17 has made arrangements for Poland Spring to deliver drinking water to OHMS on a weekly basis. He is in the process of having drinking water in all the district’s schools retested before taking further action.

In addition to the new, more restrictive standards, Manning pointed out that until recently all water fountains in publics schools were not accessible over the last two years due to COVID restrictions.

“Any water siting in pipes for that long will result in higher levels,” he wrote.

Water tests show elevated levels of lead in some of Oxford Hills Middle School’s plumbing. The district is currently retesting the water in all school buildings. Advertiser Democrat File photo

The letter sent to parents on Sept. 19 indicated that the locations noted in the test results vary from old science lab faucets that have been disconnected for some time, to bathroom
sinks. A select few were older style water fountains.

If the latest tests match up with results from May’s annual results, the district will investigate if elevated levels might be coming from public water supply, which he indicated is highly unlikely.

“Once we identify the actual source of the elevated levels, we will address and replace the necessary fixtures/pipes to ensure the school has multiple drinking water sources,” Manning said. “We are doing everything we can to mitigate the situation.

“After we have the results back hopefully within the next 2 weeks, we will then take the proper action to address the issue.”



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