New Earthquake Detection Technology

Over the last few years, Silverdale Water District (SWD) has upgraded our Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. These upgrades include a new Human/Machine Interface Display, Predictive Modeling, Upgraded Alarming Capabilities, and transition from radio to an IP-based cellular communications network. These improvements provide more robust and reliable ways to control and track our production, storage, and distribution system.  In addition to our strong SCADA system, we are now enhancing the protection of our critical infrastructure during an earthquake, increasing our ability to provide water after a temblor.

SWD has partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey and its new technical program called ShakeAlert.  ShakeAlert is the Northwest’s first earthquake early warning system. ShakeAlert is not earthquake prediction: it is a tool that indicates an earthquake has begun and that shaking is imminent. The early warning system uses a network of sensors installed up and down the West Coast of the United States to “listen” for the acoustic signature of an earthquake. This data passes through networks at California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington, where the warning signal is processed.  The warning time will range from several seconds to several minutes, based on the location of the quake’s epicenter and strength.

Through integrating ShakeAlert into our SCADA system, the District will be able to automatically respond to the alarm before the destructive shaking begins. The advance notice will enable us to shut down well pumps, boosters systems, and large control valves.  We will also be able to automatically disconnect power to minimize the possibility of fires, damage, and loss of function. In addition, we will be able to control loss of water by throttling or closing down strategic reservoirs in case of damage to the distribution system.

In the event of “The Big One” (or even a smaller quake), ShakeAlert will be an important component in assisting us in providing water for first responders, our customers and our community.