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AWPA Colors

APWA Utility Color Codes

The American Public Works Association (APWA) recommends the following guidelines be used when marking underground utilities.

White = Proposed Excavation


Pink = Temporary Survey Markings


Red = Electric Power Lines, Cables, Conduit and Lighting Cables


Yellow = Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum or Gaseous Materials


Orange = Communication, Alarm or Signal Lines, Cables or Conduit


Blue = Potable Water


Purple = Reclaimed Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines


Green = Sewer and Drain Lines


Why are these colors used?

Often, you will see these colors used to identify utility lines in cities and on a university campus. Sometimes city or campus utility departments will paint the tops (such as manhole lids, or sewer drop-inlet tops) of their utilities these colors before an aerial survey is flown so that the people creating the maps can identify the type of utility. If you see utilities being painted in your area, there’s a good chance an aerial survey is going to be flown soon. Or sometimes utility departments are just taking inventory of their assets and are painting to identify their utility infrastructure, or possibly to diagnose a problem and they need to identify multiple utility types in an given area.


The utility departments that mark their utilities usually use inverted spray paint, also known as “upside down paint”.