Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro closed Tuesday, Nov. 22 – a day earlier than it would have closed for Thanksgiving break – after a test revealed problems with the school’s water supply.
The test followed the discovery of a heating oil leak in the school’s boiler room the previous week, according to a letter to students’ families from Principal Andrew Cavanaugh. Tests prompted by the leak determined that the school’s water supply contains a volatile organic compound called tetrachloroethylene.
According to the letter, the issue prohibits staff and students from using school water for drinking or food preparation.
The prohibition will continue until the school confirms that the water supply is safe for consumption. In the interim, bottled water will be available.
MVHS is working with the school’s licensed water operator and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
RSU 40 Superintendent Steve Nolan said the closure was a precautionary measure and student and staff safety is the district’s and the school’s highest priority.
He said the leak was discovered and fixed Nov. 14. The school’s water contained the smell of fuel, and water samples taken Nov. 14 were sent for testing,
He said the first samples contained the organic compound and further samples were taken in the days after the leak’s discovery.
The superintendent said with the upcoming school vacation, the day off gives the school additional time to confirm the building is safe for students and staff.
“We are effectively closing for six days, allowing them to run the water samples and determine the result,” Nolan said.
Nolan said the most recent test will hopefully determine the water is safe, and if not, the situation will be re-evaluated before the school reopens.