April is Earthquake Preparedness Month, Time to Protect Our Water Supply
For Immediate Release:
April 4, 2012
Los Angeles, CA – April is Earthquake Preparedness Month and the Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) is reminding Californians that we as a state need to take measured steps to protect our water supply in the event of a major seismic event.
Today, the water supply for 25 million Californians is protected by old and fragile levees that could fail in an earthquake, causing saltwater to contaminate our freshwater supply. There are, however, solutions underway that will protect our water supply from this risk.
“Billions of dollars have been spent to retrofit bridges, highways, hospitals, schools and prisons. But to date, no effective measures have been taken to secure our water supply in the event of an earthquake. It’s time to retrofit our state’s water delivery system,” said Richard Atwater, Executive Director of SCWC.
The U.S. Geological Survey says there’s a 63 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 quake in the next 30 years in the Bay Area, home of the Delta—California’s water supply hub. A 6.7 quake could create a Katrina-like collapse of the 100-year-old levees that channel Delta water, causing saltwater to flood in and contaminate the supply for two out of every three residents of the state. Water deliveries from the Delta could be interrupted for as long as 1 ½ years. Until we make the needed investments to protect our infrastructure against this scenario, we are simply not prepared for this very real possibility.
SCWC is committed to supporting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), a comprehensive approach to securing our water supply while protecting the Delta’s critical habitat. The BDCP would include a new water conveyance system, such as a tunnel or canal, that would prevent saltwater from contaminating California’s freshwater in the event of an earthquake.
“It’s good to remind Californians to prepare their homes and businesses for an earthquake, but let’s not forget that our core infrastructure is also at risk and we need to take significant action to prepare. There is no better time than now to secure our water supply,” said Charles Wilson, Chairman of SCWC.
Under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, state and federal agencies, in partnership with public water agencies, key scientists and environmental organizations, are examining multiple options for a new conveyance facility—including a canal or underground tunnel—to separate water supply movement from the fragile Delta environment and weak levee system. The plan, formulated in collaboration and based on sound science, would restore water supplies for the Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California and preserve and enhance natural habitats in the Delta. This long overdue redesign of the water supply system would be one of the largest public works projects in California and construction of a new conveyance facility would be paid for by public water agencies. It is estimated the project could generate up to 130,000 indirect and direct jobs during the seven-year construction period.
Recently, SCWC launched a regional education and outreach program entitled “Delta Disrupted,” highlighting earthquakes as a significant threat to California’s water supply. The program seeks to educate local and regional leaders about this major water supply risk and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. For more information on the Delta crisis and seismic risks, please visit www.socalwater.org/delta-disrupted.