Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and a group of their colleagues in requesting details from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on future plans and funding needs for the West Coast Early Earthquake Warning system.
In a letter to USGS Associate Director for Natural Hazards, Dr. Dave Applegate, the senators write, “After years of strong congressional and state-level support, we are glad to see the EEW system has advanced to having nearly 70 percent of seismic stations in place and active across the West Coast.”
“As we all know, it is not a matter of “if” but “when” the next major earthquake will strike,” they continued. “Therefore, it is essential that we complete the buildout of the EEW system as quickly as possible and ensure its infrastructure and operations are robust enough to provide a meaningful public safety benefit to our constituents.”
Earthquake Early Warning systems are meant to give vital seconds before shaking is felt, allowing people to take cover, stop ongoing surgeries and halt public transit to keep passengers safe. With federal funding and partnerships with universities and other organizations, the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system is now available in California, Oregon and Washington. The system is a network of sensors that collects and shares real-time information about the magnitude, location and expected shaking from earthquakes on the West Coast to distribution partners who then deliver alerts via cell phones and the internet.
The senators requested information on the funding needed to complete buildout of seismic stations, costs of maintenance and operations, plans to improve reliability and resilience of system, possibility of offshore sensors and partnerships with external organizations on system operations and development.
In addition to Feinstein and Padilla, the letter was also signed by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Californians can get information on the Early Warning system and download the MyShake App at earthquake.ca.gov.
Full text of the letter is available here and below.
Dave Applegate, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Natural Hazards
Exercising the Delegated Authority of the Director, U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192
Dear Dr. Applegate,
As strong supporters of the Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system, we write to request details on future plans and funding needs for the system.
After years of strong congressional and state-level support, we are glad to see the EEW system has advanced to having nearly 70 percent of seismic stations in place and active across the West Coast. We appreciate the U.S. Geological Survey’s ongoing partnership and commitment to the EEW system over the years. In order to help inform legislative and future appropriations decisions to ensure the successful completion of the system prior to the next major earthquake, we ask that you respond to the following questions:
- The level of funding needed to complete the buildout of seismic stations to adequately densify the sensor network in Washington, Oregon, and California such that it can deliver immediate and reliable warnings throughout the entire West Coast.
- The estimated cost for ongoing maintenance and expected necessary upgrades that will be required for EEW as part of annual operations and maintenance outside of the funding needed for completion of the initial buildout.
- USGS’ plans for telemetry infrastructure to improve the reliability and resilience of the system, including any current estimates of the cost of telemetry.
- An estimate of current and future annual operations costs.
- A plan for continued partnership with external partners, including universities, as the buildout is finished and the system enters the operations and maintenance stage.
- How does USGS plan to incorporate offshore sensors along the West Coast, including the Cascadia subduction zone, into the EEW system? What is the estimated cost and timeline for completing the buildout of offshore sensors?
As we all know, it is not a matter of “if” but “when” the next major earthquake will strike. Therefore, it is essential that we complete the buildout of the EEW system as quickly as possible and ensure its infrastructure and operations are robust enough to provide a meaningful public safety benefit to our constituents.
We thank you for your continued work and partnership on this critical system, and we look forward to reviewing the information provided in response to this request.