Land between Gracelawn Road and Lake Auburn in Auburn owned by John Gendron has been part of the debate between Lewiston and Auburn officials over the Lake Auburn watershed boundary and water quality protection. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

PORTLAND – Three months after mediation failed, Auburn Water District filed a motion in Cumberland County Superior Court to dismiss Lewiston’s lawsuit against it regarding changes within the Lake Auburn watershed.

The city of Lewiston filed suit against the Auburn Water District in Androscoggin County Superior Court in May 2022. The civil complaint asks the court to declare that the Auburn Water District does not have the authority to change the definition of the Lake Auburn watershed or its boundary, and that any increased development causing pollution to the lake goes against the water district’s charter and its agreement with Lewiston.

Mediations to resolve the complaint, which the court moved to the business and consumer docket at Cumberland County Superior Court, failed in January, according to court documents and statements from city officials.

The motion filed March 24 claims that the issues Lewiston presented in its complaint are outside of the court’s jurisdiction.

“AWD is a municipal entity with expressly reserved legislative authority in its Charter granted to it by the Maine Legislature. The City of Lewiston and this Court do not have the power to initiate or dictate AWD’s legislative authority,” the motion states.

Even if Lewiston’s complaint was within the court’s purview, the “alleged inaction by the AWD” cited in the suit “relates, at least in part, to ordinances proposed but not yet enacted by the City of Auburn,” according to the motion.


“The Plaintiff asks this Court to make an entirely advisory ruling, to order legislative action, against an ordinance proposed by another municipal entity, which has not yet taken shape.”

The motion requests that the court dismiss Lewiston’s complaint and “that Defendant be awarded its costs in defending this action.”

Auburn Water District’s attorney, Michael Hodgins of Eaton Peabody, was not available for comment.

District Superintendent Mike Broadbent declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation. Water District trustee President Stephen Milks could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Lewiston’s lawsuit was in response to Auburn city officials’ decision to rezone 148 acres between the Auburn Mall area and the lake in March 2022, as well as ongoing discussions about updating septic design standards in the watershed.

The city said those decisions could increase development near the lake, which could lower water quality and force the water district to install a filtration system.


Lewiston also claimed in the suit that in approving Auburn’s changes to watershed boundaries, it failed to meet its responsibilities under an agreement with Lewiston to protect water quality.

“Filing this type of motion is a common tactic for a lawsuit defendant,” Angelynne Amores, Lewiston’s director of marketing and communications, said in an email Wednesday.

“Lewiston will oppose it and we expect the suit will proceed,” she said.

“The Lewiston Water Division works daily to ensure safe and affordable drinking water for Lewiston consumers,” Lewiston Public Works Deputy Director Kevin Gagne said in a statement.

“We are advancing that goal not only through the lawsuit, but by cooperative efforts with local and state partners,” he said.

The Auburn Water District filed the motion to dismiss the same day that a group of residents filed a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission requesting an investigation into the Auburn Water District’s “actions and inactions.”

Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said, “we will prevail,” but declined to comment further.

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said Wednesday he “appreciates the thought that all parties have put in,” and looks “forward to wrapping this up.”

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