Watch CBS News

Can San Mateo County's water supply withstand a major earthquake? New report raises concerns

Report raises concerns about Bay Area water supply's earthquake readiness
Report raises concerns about Bay Area water supply's earthquake readiness 02:27

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) - A newly released report from the San Mateo County Grand Jury is raising concerns about what happens to the water supply when a major earthquake hits.

READ : The Other Water Worry: Is Your Water Provider Prepared for the Big One?

The infamous San Andreas fault cuts a path right though San Mateo County and the San Gregorio Fault skirts the coast line. 

At Cal Water Bayshore, which provides water to San Mateo, South San Francisco, San Carlos and Cola the threat of an earthquake is always on managers minds. 

"We want to reassure our customers that we're not taking a blind eye to this situation and we are preparing for it and practicing on an on-going basis and it's not just today - we have been doing this for quite some time," said Ross Moilan, a district manager for Cal Water Bayshore.

The grand jury found that many of the 15 water districts do not have enough backup water or fuel to keep the water moving for 72 hours after a quake.

"I think in various scenarios, we're from one to three days with backup supply. But, again as those days are going on - we're trying to make repairs get things place and hopefully restore normal supply," Moilan said. 

For that scenario, Cal Water says they have backup plans from their other 23 districts around the state. 

"We'll make the call and we'll start getting resources coming - resources will be people who can fix pipes, can operate pumps. They'll be bringing in portable power units that can power our pump stations," said Darin Duncan, Director of Field Operations for Cal Water. 

Duncan says the agency is constantly retrofitting and implementing lessons learned from quakes like Loma Prieta.

"What we found on that one is that we had rigid connections on these million gallon tanks and as everything started oscillating the pipes would shear off and you can't control that and you lost all of your emergency storage." 

So, Cal Water replaced 700 storage tank connections. 

"Everyone of them has what we call a flexible expansion joint - either double ball or they look like flexistraws."

The report also said that San Mateo County Emergency Management should be coordinating with more water districts. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.