Jim Thorpe borough might have a water leak and is paying $4,000 to find it.

Kim Mazur, borough engineer, said that 45 percent of the water in the borough was unaccounted for.

He said water use is measured by subtracting the data on residential meters from the amount of water that comes through source meters.

Also, water from system flushes, testing and fire hydrants is accounted for.

The 45 percent that is not accounted for may be due to a leak.

Water usage in Jim Thorpe was 83,369,000 gallons in 2012 and 79,295,000 gallons in 2013, which is an inconsistency that the borough can't explain.

Mazur asked that the borough hire Dave Bonkovich of Public Utilities Consultants to use listening devices that amplify sound to assess fire hydrants and other water sources to find any unusual vibrations that indicate a leak.

The borough passed the motion to pay Bonkovich $4,000 for the assessment, which he will complete at night when the town is quietest.

Council member John McGuire said the borough is losing much more than $4,000 from the unaccounted water, making the agreement a fiscally responsible one.

"We basically put out twice more than we needed, which is costing us a pile of cash," he said.

Mazur said the Department of Environmental Protection has a standard of 20 percent in terms of unaccounted water, and that most eastern municipalities in the state are seeing the same inconsistencies as Jim Thorpe.

Other water woes

Water issues dominated Jim Thorpe Borough's meeting Thursday night.

A resident mentioned that he heard water running under manholes on Broadway, where new piping was put in, adding that he was sure it wasn't coming from the underground river.

One unidentified resident complained about water quality.

"The quality of it is very poor," she said. "I personally get spring water delivered."

Mazur agreed to have someone sample her water, but council member John McGuire said that the quality is bad in more than just a few homes.

"If you want a sample, I can give you the seven filters I've changed," McGuire said.

Mazur said he would look into problems, considering there may be issues with the water main.

The resident also expressed concern over the water meters, which are read by radio signal in thousand-gallon increments.

"Nowadays, with technology, you should be able to give more accurate billings closer to what you actually use instead of thousands of gallons," she said. "You get billed twice, it seems, for the amount of water that comes into your house."

Billing for water use is based on readings from these meters, and for resident Keith Frankenfield, water bills have been inconsistent with use.

He said that he had been gone from his house for months, but he got a water bill that amounted to more than just the fee to be on the water line.

McGuire asked if Frankenfield had searched for leaks. He said he had, and found none.

McGuire told him to set up a day to have someone address the problem at his home.

Mazur asked if the borough could contact the meter manufacturer and inquire about hundred-gallon increments, instead of thousand-gallon increments.

The readings are costly for residents and the borough as a whole.

McGuire noted that the meter would have to be calibrated constantly.

President Betsy Ahner said that meters were put in over 20 years ago and were always set to 1,000 gallons.