The iconic and much-debated West Tisbury Mill Pond comes back into the spotlight this week as the town prepares to begin a long-range watershed study of the Mill Brook river system. The watershed that will be studied encompasses some 3,700 acres and includes the Mill Pond.

The one-year $30,000 study was approved by voters at the annual town meeting last spring. A town committee has prepared a draft request for proposals and will host a series of public forums, beginning tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the West Tisbury Library.

“This is our first of many public discussions we hope to have over the next two years,” said Chuck Hodgkinson, who is co-chairman of the Mill Brook watershed committee. “This one is to just kind of outline what the selectmen have charged us to do and review what we have learned so far — and say, here are several questions we have that we hope the study will help us answer.”

Mill Pond is one body of water in a complex freshwater river system that flows into the Tisbury Great Pond. The pond was created many years ago when the Mill Brook was dammed as a source of hydropower for wool and grist mills along its banks. Today, the pond is best known as the home of mute swans, Canada geese and otters. The pond is stocked each spring with freshwater trout and is a popular fishing spot for families and children.

In recent years the pond has been slowly filling in and has been the subject of intensifying debate, primarily over whether to dredge it. At one point dredging was recommended by engineers but there was disagreement over issues of cost and methods for dredging. Meanwhile, one resident who is also a member of the town conservation commission began a small campaign to consider removal of the dam which would allow the area to return to a wetland. There are strong opinions on all sides. The pond has been a regular item on both special and annual town meeting warrants since 2006.

Mr. Hodgkinson said the central goal of the next two years will be information gathering, including a review of past studies.

“We want to say, here are several questions we have that we hope the Mill Brook watershed study will help us answer,” he said. “And then we will open it up to the floor, maybe there are some other questions folks might want to have answered. It’s really to start the dialogue about what we are doing and why. The voters said they want the town to want to do a watershed study and were kind enough to put $30,000 aside.”

The study is expected to lead to a draft watershed management plan that will be presented to voters at the 2016 annual town meeting.

The watershed committee, which is co-chaired by selectman Cynthia Mitchell along with Mr. Hodgkinson, has been meeting for two months. A draft RFP has been prepared that is expected to be voted on by the selectmen at their regular meeting on Wednesday this week. Mr. Hodgkinson said he doubts the RFP will change much as a result of tonight’s forum.

“It depends, we have a very finite budget, so we are not going to go over the RFP in detail,” he said. Rather, he said the forum is to begin to learn more about “what do people want to know about the watershed. I think we will get data that can address most anything.”

He concluded: “We will see where it goes. I have no expectation; it’s the first of many forums.”

Olivia Hull contributed reporting.