Senator Cantwell Applauds $4.9 Million in Funding for Advancing Early Warning Earthquake System

Cantwell: ‘A robust earthquake alert system could provide the needed time to save countless lives and secure property’

RICHLAND, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the announcement that the United State Geological Survey has awarded more than $4.9 million to six universities, including the University of Washington (UW) and Central Washington University (CWU), to support transitioning the west coast “ShakeAlert” earthquake early warning system into a full-scale public alert system. Specifically, UW will receive $898,000 and CWU will receive $250,000.

Additionally, the USGS announced the purchase of about $1 million in new sensor equipment to expand and improve the ShakeAlert system.

Senator Cantwell has been a leading voice to expand earthquake preparedness and resiliency as well as tsunami detection. In 2016, Cantwell fought to increase funding to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program for ShakeAlert.

“With millions of people living along the Cascadia fault, it’s critical we have early detections to help protect Washingtonians from potentially deadly earthquakes. A robust earthquake alert system could provide the needed time to save countless lives and secure property,” said Cantwell. “I applaud the Washington scientists, including those at the University of Washington and Central Washington University, who continue to lead the nation in research on this topic. I’ll continue to work to ensure that Washingtonians have the resources they need to best protect themselves from natural disasters.”

"The University of Washington, together with our university and USGS partners, will enthusiastically use the resources Congress has allocated to continue to build toward a public rollout of the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system for the U.S. West Coast. We are grateful to the Washington and Oregon senate and congressional delegations who have worked to support an increased funding level. This brings us halfway to the goal needed to operate and maintain the system. Our team is hard at work upgrading seismic instrumentation, data telemetry, and data processing facilities to ensure the highest-quality warning system possible," said Paul Bodin, research professor of seismology at University of Washington and network manager of Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

An earthquake early warning system can give people a precious few seconds to stop what they are doing and take protective actions before the severe shaking waves from an earthquake arrive.  Under the new cooperative agreements, the USGS and its seven university and non-profit partners will collaborate to improve the ShakeAlert system’s sensor and telemetry infrastructure across the west coast of the United States. ShakeAlert is a new product of the USGS Advanced National Seismic System, a federation of national and regional earthquake monitoring networks throughout the country, including networks in southern California, northern California, Nevada, and the Pacific Northwest.

Cantwell has long fought to secure the needed resources to best protect Washingtonians from the natural disasters that impact the Pacific Northwest. In 2005, Cantwell successfully helped secure funding to strengthen the U.S. Tsunami Warning network, including funding to install 10 additional tsunami warning sirens in Washington state. Earlier this year, the President signed her Tsunami Warning, Education and Research Act into law, which made needed investments in State based preparedness programs such as inundation modeling, traffic studies, and improving scientific support for communities planning vertical evacuation infrastructure.