BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                            Senator Kevin de León, Chair

          SB 135 (Padilla) - Early Earthquake Warning System.
          Amended: April 2, 2013          Policy Vote: GO 11-0; NRW 9-0
          Urgency: No                     Mandate: No
          Hearing Date: May 6, 2013       Consultant: Mark McKenzie
          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. 

          Bill Summary: SB 135 would require the Office of Emergency  
          Services (OES), in collaboration with specified state and  
          federal entities, to establish an early earthquake warning  
          system in California.

          Fiscal Impact: 
              Initial estimated costs of approximately $80 million over  
              five years (likely $20-$25 million in the first year, and  
              $12-$15 million for the remaining four years) to establish a  
              statewide early earthquake warning system (General Fund).   
              This assumes an expansion of the current California  
              Integrated Seismic Network (CISN), rather than building a  
              warning system from the ground up. 

              Initial OES staffing costs of $399,000 annually (2 Research  
              Specialist II positions) to support the development of the  

              Unknown ongoing costs to operate and maintain the system  
              (General Fund).

          Background: California is the second most seismically active  
          state in the country, behind Alaska. The Uniform California  
          Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF) forecasts a 99.7% chance of  
          a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake in the state during the  
          next 30 years. Some countries that experience high seismic  
          activity have developed early earthquake warning (EEW) systems.   
          Currently, Japan is the only country with a nationwide system,  
          while Turkey, Mexico, Taiwan, and others have implemented local  
          systems.  Generally, these detection systems are based upon the  
          finding that the first waves emanating from the epicenter of the  
          earthquake, primary waves (P-waves), cause less damage but  
          travel faster than the slower and damage-causing secondary waves  


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          (S-waves).  This "single-station" approach can be used in  
          conjunction with a "network approach" that combines signals from  
          a regional seismic network of sensors that is capable of  
          characterizing large and complex earthquakes as they evolve.   
          EEW systems harness the sensor signals and provide a warning to  
          the public and active users of the system before a shaking  
          event.  Depending on the distance from the epicenter, these  
          systems can provide advanced warning time ranging from seconds  
          to minutes, outside a 20-mile "blind zone" near an epicenter.   
          This would allow for emergency shutdowns of critical  
          infrastructure, such as trains, utilities, and industrial  
          processes, and allow the general public to take protective  

          The California Geological Survey (CGS), within the Department of  
          Conservation, currently operates over 5,000 seismic instruments  
          that monitor ground movement around the state through the Strong  
          Motion Instrumentation Program (SMIP).  This is the largest  
          portion of the broader California Integrated Seismic Network  
          (CISN), which is comprised of 1,900 monitoring sites operated in  
          partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, Caltech, and the UC  
          Berkeley Seismological Lab.  Information from these instruments  
          is used for research and planning purposes, and to produce  
          "Shakemaps," which inform emergency responders where the worst  
          shaking occurred within minutes of an earthquake.  The U.S.  
          Geological Survey is currently operating a small warning system  
          pilot program based on this instrumentation network, and a  
          report on the program is due within the next year.  Additional  
          federal grants have recently been awarded to support the  
          development of a local earthquake early warning system for the  
          Los Angeles and Long Beach areas.

          Proposed Law: SB 135 would require the Office of Emergency  
          Services (OES), in collaboration with the California Institute  
          of Technology (Caltech), the California Geological Survey, the  
          University of California Berkeley, the United States Geological  
          Survey, and others, to establish an early earthquake warning  
          system in California.

          Staff Comments: The SMIP, as well as the Seismic Hazard Mapping  
          Program, is supported by residential construction fees of $10  
          per $100,000 of value and commercial building permit fees of $21  
          per $100,000 of value.  These fees, which are deposited in the  
          Strong Motion Instrumentation and Seismic Hazards Mapping Fund,  


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          have not been raised since 1990.  Since the 2000-01 fiscal year,  
          revenues from the fees have ranged from $3.5 to $8.8 million,  
          depending on building and construction activity.  Staff notes  
          that fee revenues have not met current program costs since the  
          2006-07 fiscal year, falling nearly $1 million short in fiscal  
          year 2011-12, and nearly $750,000 short 2012-13.  The program's  
          current funding source would not support the expansion of staff  
          and instrumentation required by an earthquake early warning  
          system.  As such, General Fund support would be required to  
          develop and implement an EEW system.

          Staff notes that the bill lacks specificity regarding the  
          establishment of an EEW in California, but the logical  
          assumption would be that a robust system would be based upon the  
          existing CGS network of seismic instrumentation.  The findings  
          and declarations of the bill include an inference that a fully  
          developed EEW could be achieved by building upon the current  
          CISN.  The establishment of such as system would require the  
          development of technology to provide warnings to the public,  
          educational outreach related to the warnings, and investments in  
          the seismic infrastructure to improve the rapid detection of  
          earthquakes.  According to CISN documents, this would entail  
          additional sensor sites, upgraded data communications, algorithm  
          development, new software systems, and robustness features that  
          would be required before an EEW could be fully operational.   
          These documents indicate that the cost of a robust, fully  
          operational EEW-capable CISN system in California would be  
          approximately $80 million over five years, not including costs  
          associated with user implementation, or ongoing operations and  
          maintenance.  Department staff is unable to provide an estimate  
          at this time due to lack of prescribed detail in the bill.  OES  
          indicates that it would require the addition of two full-time  
          Research Specialist II positions, at an annual cost of $399,000,  
          to support the development of the system.