Some problems can’t be fixed by a silver bullet; however, when it comes to problems faced by most governments, there’s almost always a silver bullet that works fantastically well – money.
Things have begun to look somewhat bleak for the prospects of a proposed three-town $58-million municipal water system in northwestern Guilford County; however, now there is a move by backers of the water system proposal to save the project by asking the state of North Carolina to fund up to $25 million to help the county and small towns cover the cost.
Advocates for the water system believe that if Guilford County officials – along with those in the three affected towns of Stokesdale, Summerfield and Oak Ridge – make the case to the state in an effective way, it’s possible that state legislators will find the money necessary to put the project back on track again.
There’s no clarity on whether or not the state will play ball when it comes to funding the water system.
Several officials in the three towns said this week that a lot of air went out of the project when a study came back and estimated that the price of constructing the system would be north of $50 million.
Others point out that many residents in the Stokesdale area already have access to city water (though at higher prices than they would like) while other citizens in northwest Guilford County are perfectly content using well water.
Given the current parameters, even those who think the system would make life easier in the area are having trouble figuring out where the $58 million or so would come from.
Which is where the big request to the state comes in.
The State of North Carolina has already provided several million dollars to Guilford County and the towns to study the situation and to do some initial design work for the water project – however, that money wouldn’t come close to covering the cost of constructing the massive system. That’s the main reason why it now looks like the future of the system rests on the state’s willingness to step in and back the project in a major way.
Summerfield Town Manager Scott Whitaker gave a report on the situation at the Summerfield Town Council meeting last week. Whitaker told the council that current cost estimates seem to price most interested parties out without more state funding.
“The big issue here – at least around the manager’s table – is there’s not a lot of expectation that the water system presented at that price is a viable option.”
Currently, many others involved say it’s difficult to see how the project moves forward in its present form unless the state is willing to give water system backers what they ask for – and, even then, there would still be significant obstacles.