News Releases

Secured $5 million earlier this year to build out early earthquake warning system for the West Coast
Worked to include more than $8 million in federal spending bill passing into law today


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Derek Kilmer applauded the announcement that $8.2 million has been included in the 2016 Omnibus spending bill to help fund an early earthquake warning system. This system, being developed at the UW in partnership with other West Coast universities, could save lives and mitigate destruction in the event of a megaquake along the Cascadia subduction zone. Earlier this year, Murray and Kilmer helped secure a $5 million federal investment for the warning system and called on the federal government to make further investments in research and disaster preparedness.


“We have a responsibility to keep families safe by making sure that the federal government is doing everything it can to invest in emergency preparedness before a large scale event like this happens,” said Senator Murray. “I was proud to fight for this critical investment for Washington state families, and I appreciate Congressman Kilmer’s work in the House to advocate for this potentially life-saving technology. Whether a quake strikes this year or in ten, we need to be ready.”


“An updated and operational Earthquake Early Warning System is essential to serve as eyes and ears for folks on the West Coast,” said Representative Kilmer. “A few crucial seconds can make all the difference to help Washingtonians get out of harm’s way if a large quake strikes. Thankfully, the funding bill that passed Congress secures additional investments in the project so it can continue expanding to protect the entire West Coast. I’ve been proud to partner with Senator Murray to keep this going and we’ll keep pushing until the system is online.” 


The Earthquake Early Warning System has been in the works since 2005 and is being developed by the University of Washington, the California Institute of Technology, University of California-Berkeley, and the University of Oregon with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). It is designed to detect the first tremors of a major earthquake and provide users with anywhere from seconds to minutes of warning before a quake hits, which would provide crucial, life-saving time for safety precautions. The system is expected to cost an estimated $38.2 million for the West Coast, with annual operating and maintenance costs of $16.1 million.