For more information,
contact NDEE's Public Information Office, (402) 471-4223, (402) 471-4243 or (402) 471-4245

New Signs Will Focus on Protecting Drinking Water

Sept. 23, 2011 – Starting in the Spring of 2012, the public will be seeing new signs sprouting across the state, indicating that they are entering a Drinking Water Protection Area. The signs are designed to raise public awareness about cooperative efforts between the state and local groups to protect the drinking water from contamination in the area.

The new signs (pictured at right) are being made available at no cost to Community Public Water Systems through NDEQ’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Management (Section 319) grant program. After applications are received, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality will give priority to provide these signs to political subdivisions and systems with a state-approved Wellhead Protection Plan. The signs can either replace old existing signs, or can be placed in new locations at the border of a Drinking Water Protection Area (also known as a Wellhead Protection Area).

The redesigned signs are the result of discussions between the Nebraska Wellhead Protection Network and municipal water system operators. This collaborative process enlisted the help of a advertising and public relations class from UNL and the Wellhead Protection Network, which includes representatives from the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Rural Water Association, the Groundwater Foundation and some public water system operators. Signs will be installed at approved locations on state roads at no charge by the Nebraska Department of Roads.

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has mailed applications to Public Water System representatives, and has asked that completed applications be submitted to the agency by October 31, 2011.

What is a Drinking Water/Wellhead Protection Area?

When an area has been determined to be a Drinking Water Protection Area (also known as a Wellhead Protection Area) it means that there are wells within the region that provide drinking water to the public. Nebraska’s Wellhead Protection Program is a voluntary program which assists communities and other public water suppliers in preventing contamination of their water supplies. The Program has developed maps that show areas around these public drinking water wells where contamination could directly impact water quality. Local entities can use this information to develop Wellhead Protection Plans to protect these important sources of drinking water.

For more information, go to the agency’s web site at http://deq.ne.gov select “Programs” and then select Wellhead Protection Program. The direct URL is: http://deq.ne.gov/NDEQProg.nsf/OnWeb/WHPA

Or, contact the Wellhead Protection Program at (402) 471-3376.