The Bangor Area School District is dealing with the lingering perception that drinking water is subpar at the Five Points Richmond Campus in Upper Mount Bethel Township. The school board of directors has hired an engineering firm to study the problem.

Members of the board voted Monday night to hire Pennoni Associates Inc. of Philadelphia to provide engineering, design, bid and construction management services necessary to develop and construct an alternative water system for the schools located at the Five Points Richmond Road campus.

The design and bidding services will cost the school district no more than $85,500 and the cost could wind up being about $30,000 less, school directors said.

It is the first step in fixing a problem that began five years ago, when a problem was discovered with a well at the middle school.

The well problem left the middle school with no water, and the school district with the realization there was no redundancy in the water system for any of the schools.

Another perception, according to district Business Manager Steve Wiencek, is that drinking water on campus is not fit to drink.

"Bottled water is being used in the schools," Wiencek said. "The perception is that the water isn't good. We never said the water wasn't safe."

School directors, who elected to take no action on the matter last month, were quick to voice their opinion that the major upgrade to the water system should start as soon as possible.

"We want to avoid a catastrophe," said school director Toni Lynch. "It shows wisdom to act now and avert a crisis."

"If the water supply isn't good, the kids can't drink it," said School Board President Pamela Colton.

Directors said the engineers will examine the problems with the water tanks and report back on the exact scope of the project.

"If that's possible, we'd like to get it done this year," said school director Kevin Pruett.

According to Pennoni’s proposal, which was introduced to the board in November, construction of the new water supply system would be completed during 2014 summer recess. The company estimated field work would last about 10 weeks.

In other business, the school board reorganized prior to the meeting. Directors Ken Brewer, Craig Berger, Bob Cartwright and Kevin Pruett were sworn in for new four-year terms.

Colton was re-elected as the board's president with Stephen Bussenger elected vice-president.