12.17.15

Early Quake Warning System for West Coast? Funding Bill Headed for Vote (West Hollywood Patch)

An early warning system that could give a few seconds or more of notice before an earthquake hits in the West Coast could receive up to $8.2 million in federal funding under a bill headed to a House vote Friday, a congressman said Thursday.

The funding -- which would go the West Coast Earthquake Warning System -- will exceed last year’s $6.5 million amount approved for the same program, according to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.

The proposed $8.2 million also is higher than the $5 million that was proposed by President Barack Obama for the fiscal year 2016 budget.

 

The House is set to vote on the funding Friday. If approved, the funding still needs the Senate and the president to sign off on it.

 

Japan, one of the world’s most earthquake-prone country, already has an early warning system in place.

 

The added funding would send “a message to the western states that it supports this life-saving system,” Schiff said. “But the federal government cannot do it alone and will need local stakeholders, both public and private, to get behind the effort with their own resources.

 

He said the increased funding would be a “very substantial sum in these budget-constrained times,” adding that the system “is an investment we need to make now, not after the ‘big one’ hits.”

 

Language in the proposed budget states that a “natural hazards program” should get $60.5 million to address “earthquake hazards,” with $8.2 million of that amount used “to transition the earthquake early warning demonstration project into an operational capability for the West Coast.”

 

The U.S. Geological Survey is working with Caltech, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and the University of Oregon to create the early warning system, and is now in the testing phase.

 

It would cost $38.2 million to completely build out the system for the West Coast, with annual operating costs estimated at $16.1 million, officials said.


Source: West Hollywood Patch