The Town of Stokesdale is ready to hold a big debate over whether or not the town should continue to participate in a proposed regional water project meant to bring a large regional water system to northwestern Guilford County.

Stokesdale has called a special meeting for 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 16 to discuss that topic in detail, which has been a subject of debate in the county’s Northwest for the last three years.

In 2018 especially, there was a lot of hope among many in the county that the three towns in the northwest – Summerfield, Oak Ridge and Stokesdale – would join with Guilford County to establish a regional water system for that section of the county. However, that proposed system – with a price tag north of $50 million – was considered too expensive by most, and now the towns must decide if they want to go further down that road or, perhaps, explore the idea of doing more on their own to provide additional water for residences, businesses and for fire protection.

The official reason for the Aug. 16 meeting is “Discussion of Regional Water Authority/ Feasibility Study continuation.”

Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing has said several times that implementing a water system in the county he formerly managed – Brunswick County on the North Carolina coast – brought a lot of economic development to that area. Several Guilford County commissioners have said that they’re interested in having Guilford County help out with a water system implementation for Northwest Guilford County – however, they’ve also made it clear that they want the three towns jointly to take the lead on any such project. If only one or two towns take part, it makes the proposed project even less economically feasible.

The last major public event related to the proposed water system took place in early September 2018, when the town councils of Oak Ridge, Stokesdale and Summerfield met with the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to discuss whether the county’s northwestern towns and surrounding areas should get a water system. At that large, joint meeting, held at the Oak Ridge Town Hall, the town council members and county commissioners heard the results of a feasibility study that was conducted by the Timmons Group and paid for with state funds.