LEWISTON — The city of Lewiston submitted a lengthy comment Monday in support of a Maine Public Utilities Commission complaint calling for an investigation into the Auburn Water District.

The submission by Lewiston’s city attorney is the latest in a back-and-forth between the two cities regarding proposed changes to the Lake Auburn watershed that some believe will result in higher costs to water ratepayers in both cities.

In late March, a group of Lewiston and Auburn residents filed a 10-person complaint with the PUC alleging the Auburn Water District has failed to uphold its duties to ratepayers and has failed to intervene in decision-making that could jeopardize the lake’s water quality.

The complaint contends that by not exercising its authority to enforce land-use control measures to push back against changes to the watershed boundary and septic design standards that could potentially alter future water quality, the district has failed to uphold its duties to ratepayers.

The 18-page comment filed by the city of Lewiston, which now appears on the PUC website, says Lewiston “supports the initiation of a formal investigation by the commission,” and that “over the past many months, District Trustees’ actions suggest a worrying pattern.”

Lewiston argues that trustees have ignored the advice of former Superintendent Sid Hazelton, and when updating the watershed boundary, “acquiesced to a city of Auburn ordinance, made on incorrect scientific conclusions, for purposes other than preventing pollution and ensuring water quality.”

The Auburn Water District and city officials have argued that the changes will improve outdated standards for septic designs while limiting development in the watershed. Last week, developer John Gendron outlined a plan that could add 1,100 units on land that has been at the center of Lewiston’s lawsuit against the Water District regarding the watershed boundary.

A week earlier, the district filed a motion in Cumberland County Superior Court to dismiss Lewiston’s lawsuit regarding changes within the Lake Auburn watershed.

Bruce Rioux, a former Auburn city councilor and Auburn Water District trustee, is listed as the lead complainant on the 10-person complaint, which features eight residents from Auburn and two from Lewiston.


The PUC has broad authority over all water utilities in Maine, including the Auburn Water District. While actions taken by the Auburn City Council and administration are described in the complaint, the PUC does not have the authority to investigate them.

Lewiston’s comment to the PUC on Monday also references a comment to the Sun Journal from Mayor Jason Levesque last week, when he said the complaint “doesn’t matter,” and is simply “political posturing.”

“This is perhaps tone deaf, but more importantly it is wrong,” said Lewiston attorney Michael Carey in the comment. “It does matter that the Auburn Water District act to fulfill its mandate to prevent pollution and to preserve the purity of the water of Lake Auburn.”

“The commission should open a formal investigation to determine whether the Auburn Water District is providing reasonable and adequate facilities and service at rates which are just and reasonable,” he said.

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