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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 52 Pa.B. 4384 (July 30, 2022).

52 Pa. Code § 69.1602. Public notification guidelines.

§ 69.1602. Public notification guidelines.

 (a)  Acceptable methods of public notification. In the event of an unscheduled water service interruption, the following acceptable methods of public notification should be considered and utilized as appropriate:

   (1)  Mass media. Facsimile/electronic mail notification to local radio and television stations, cable systems, newspapers and other print and news media as soon as possible after the event occurs. These notifications must provide relevant information about the event, such as the affected locations, its potential impact including the possible duration of the outage, the possible adverse health effects and the population or subpopulation particularly at risk, and a description of actions affected ratepayers/occupants should take to ensure their safety, with updates as often as needed. Updates should be provided on a predictable, regular schedule for the duration of the event. The Commission’s Office of Communications and Lead Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer should also receive these notifications.

   (2)  Web site. Use of the utility’s own Internet web site and 24/7 emergency phone line and integrated voice response system to provide relevant information about the event, such as the affected locations, estimated duration, its potential impact including possible adverse health effects and the population or subpopulation particularly at risk, and a description of actions affected ratepayers/occupants should take to ensure their safety, with updates as often as needed. A section of the utility’s web site shall be dedicated to presenting outage information where regular updates of the number of customers without service by geographic area and estimated restoration times are available. Depending on the utility’s system limitations, this could be as simple as a PDF or spreadsheet file of information that is updated at regular intervals.

   (3)  Automated dialer system. Automated dialer system (outbound dialing) notification to affected ratepayers’/occupants’ landline or wireless phones. Updates should be provided at regular intervals or if the estimated restoration time changes by more than 2 hours.

   (4)  Actual notice. Actual notice to affected health care and child care facilities and other facilities, for example, schools and restaurants, as determined by consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health, the Department of Aging and other State agencies as necessary.

   (5)  Miscellaneous. Other types of direct or actual notice, such as doorknob flyers distributed to affected ratepayers/occupants, when feasible.

   (6)  Electronic mail and other emerging technology. Electronic mail and text message notification to affected customers who have opted to receive notice through use of these methods. The use of emerging technology such as social media is strongly encouraged.

   (7)  Emergency alert system. Coordination with State and local emergency management agencies as needed to use the emergency alert system for qualifying situations.

 (b)  NIMS standards. Utilities should strive to follow the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and its Public Information System to organize all information throughout the utility into one unified message.

   (1)  Crisis communication plans. Utility crisis communication plans should be in writing and every attempt should be made to be consistent with Nationally-approved NIMS standards.

   (2)  Coordination. If more than one utility is affected in the same geographic region, strong consideration should be given to implementing the NIMS based Joint Information System/Joint Information Center, including coordinating messages on safety and other consumer information tips during outages. This would allow for coordination and integration of information across jurisdictions, especially on universal messages such as actions residents should take to ensure safety.

   (3)  Public notice templates. Utilities should have public notice templates prepared in advance to be available when needed to avoid wasting critical time developing materials when confronted with an unscheduled service interruption or emergency situation. The notices should cover all possible scenarios from water conservation to boil water alerts to contaminants of concern and associated health effects, safety and shelter information, estimated restoration times and times when updated information will be provided. Smaller utilities can refer to resources that are available on the web sites of the Department of Environmental Protection, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Section of the American Water Works Association and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Water Companies for assistance in developing public notice templates.

 (c)  Contact information. To ensure that the public is informed, utilities should have a knowledgeable contact person stationed onsite during the emergency, if possible, to communicate to the public and media on behalf of the company. Regular media updates should be scheduled at predictable times.

   (1)  Spokesperson. A single point of contact should be established as the sole media spokesperson for the utility for that time period. During extended outages, a secondary media spokesperson could be utilized as the sole contact for a specific period of time.

   (2)  Talking points and informational sheets. Talking points or informational sheets should be provided to customer service representatives and others who may come in contact with the public during the course of the outage to strive toward consistency of message. This information should also be shared with the Commission’s Office of Communications, its Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and county emergency management agencies. For employees that may have contact with the public but will not be able to receive up-to-date outage information in the course of their duties, the utility should instruct those employees to direct the public to appropriate information sources.


   The provisions of this §  69.1602 adopted December 15, 2006, effective December 16, 2006, 36 Pa.B. 7624; amended February 24, 2012, effective February 25, 2012, 42 Pa.B. 1034; amended April 18, 2014, effective April 19, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 2405. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (360591) to (360593).

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