NOTE: Water Supply Area signs may only be posted when the public water supplier has a PA DEP approved Source Water Protection (SWP) Program. In addition, signs on a PennDOT roadway must receive prior approval by PennDOT. Signs on a township, borough or city road, must be approved by the municipality.
Many water systems have transportation corridors, both highways and railways, that pass through areas that provide drinking water. Accidents involving a spill of hazardous materials as well as stormwater on those highways and roads may wash de-icing materials to the rivers and creeks in source water areas. When spills occur, they have the potential to enter storm drains and reach the rivers and streams that furnish drinking water. It is essential therefore, for emergency personnel to respond quickly to a spill event.
Posting Water Supply Area signs is one of the steps some water systems have taken to raise awareness about protecting drinking water along roadways. The signs alert motorists to the presence of the drinking water supply area, and engage their support to quickly report spills along the roadways to the 911 Emergency Response Center. Water Systems are required to first have a PA DEP-approved Source Water Protection Plan to receive permission to erect signage along state highways.
Signage about water supply areas involves more than just fabricating and posting signs along the road, and is the reason that DEP requires prior approval of the system’s SWP Plan. Signage is only one element of a complete community source water protection education program in which a coordinated emergency spill response program is developed to help address spill response near a public water supply (e.g. how are 911 calls to be handled and who is notified) as well as public education for residents and local officials in the host community where signs are to be erected. The public is a key partner in understanding their role in promptly reporting spills.
City of Allentown and Lehigh County Authority Collaborative created a public education brochure about water supply signs installed in 2012 on area transportation corridors along the Little Lehigh River. The brochure was part of their Source Water Protection Collaborative Grant from the Water Resources Education Network, a project of the League of Women Voters of PA Citizen Education Fund.
To view brochure, click here: Allentown Source Water Protection Road Signs Brochure 9-28-12
The Water Resources Education Network offers off-the shelf educational materials that may be downloaded that were developed under a grant to PA Rural Water Association (PRWA.com) Please see the WREN webpage for examples of signs and educational postcards in PC and MAC format in high resolution: http://wren.palwv.org/products/signs_postcards.html).
PennDOT Water Supply Sign Information and Specifications:
- I80-1 – PennDOT water supply sign specs
- PennDOT Publication 236- Nov 2012
- State Approved Sign Manufacturers 3-1-12