Twenty-five million Californians and 3 million acres of farmland rely on our state’s outdated water distribution system for their supplies. This antiquated system is made up of dirt levees, aqueducts, and pipes, and is especially vulnerable to collapse when the next big earthquake hits, which could leave millions without water for months or even years.

Highway 25 and San Andreas fault

Highway 25 and San Andreas fault.

California’s water distribution system travels through areas that would be especially hard-hit by earthquakes. Vulnerable points like the Delta region have a moderate-to-high seismic risk because of many active faults in the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, in a 2016 report the USGS made the following earthquake predictions for the San Francisco Bay area:

  • 98% chance of an 6.0 magnitude or greater earthquake within the next 30 years
  • 72% chance of a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake within the next 30 years
  • 50% chance of a 7.0 magnitude or greater earthquake within the next 30 years

*The 2014 Napa earthquake was 6.0 in magnitude, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was 6.9 in magnitude, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was 7.8 in magnitude.

“We ignore the potential for seismic failure of levees in California at our peril… Let’s heed the warning that (the Napa) earthquake provides by adopting a long-term solution to the water conveyance infrastructure problem in the delta.” –Scott Brandenburg and Jonathan Stewart, UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

The California WaterFix was chosen as the most viable plan after nearly a decade of expert review, planning and analysis with unprecedented public input. The plan will address the severe vulnerabilities of California’s water delivery system by relying on the most innovative technologies and engineering practices to repair our outdated system. It will replace fragile dirt levees with a modern gravity fed water pipeline 150 feet below ground to better protect California water supplies from earthquakes, floods and levee collapse.

We can longer afford to ignore this vital infrastructure – we must move forward with the California WaterFix to protect water supplies for millions of Californians.

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