The talks over whether to create a new $50 million municipal water system to serve northwest Guilford County are gaining steam.

Recently, Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing met with the town managers of the three towns that could get a new water system – Summerfield, Stokesdale and Oak Ridge – to discuss the next move for the proposed project.

Last month, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the town councils of the three towns held a large collective meeting in the Oak Ridge Town Hall to hear the findings of an extensive feasibility study of the proposed water system. One course of action suggested by that study was a new groundwater study to confirm that would be a viable supply option.

Lawing said that, when the managers met at the old Guilford County Court House, one of the topics of discussion was the wisdom of conducting that second study. He said the first study was a feasibility study but this next one would involve physical exploration of presumed ground water sources. The scope and exact nature of a follow-up water study hasn’t been decided – that was something the managers discussed, Lawing said. Therefore, the exact cost of a second study isn’t known. Once source said a ballpark number was likely $600,000.

There are two possible sources for water if the county and the towns want to move forward with the study: Use wells or buy the water from a city supplier such as Winston-Salem or Reidsville. Lawing said a groundwater study may be putting the cart before the horse since there’s no point in doing a costly study if the towns decide to purchase city water instead.

Summerfield Town Manager Scott Whitaker said the proposed water system is still under debate in that town. He said the county and towns are trying are discussing the matter to decide what comes now.

“We are working on the next step to that [study] for each jurisdiction to consider,” he said.

There could be another major meeting between all the towns and the county soon.

“The first study was a desktop study that said we had plenty of ground water,” Whitaker said, “but to really confirm that we need to dig deeper figuratively and literally.”