Supes urge USGS to keep funding earthquake monitors

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SAN DIEGO - San Diego County could be hit by an earthquake at anytime, but funding cuts could shut off 21 earthquake warning sensors along the fault zones and five monitoring stations.

Scripps Institute seismologist Dr. Luciana Astiz said the information provided by the early warning system is critical to public safety.

"Seconds count. We're basically short-cutting ourselves in the time and in how much time we'd have to react," said Dr. Astiz. "We know a major earthquake could hit San Diego in the next 30 years, where and when would be information we could give the public through these sensors."

Scripps operates two earthquake monitoring programs in San Diego and both are at risk due to cuts proposed by the US Geological Survey.

On Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to support continuing the federal funding for the programs and an early warning public notification system.

County Supervisor Greg Cox said the loss of these critical networks would inhibit the ability to prepare and plan for major earthquakes in the region.

"Kids are in school and we have an imminent earthquake in the next 20 seconds," said Cox. "At least you can get the kids out of the classroom or get them to duck under the table so they have some protection."

The funding was to be cut by early spring 2015, but Tuesdays vote by the county would help to extend the shut off date.

"It's really two steps continuing funding for the monitoring system remains in place, and an early notification system using the information from that monitoring system made available to the public," said Cox.

Establishing a similar system could cost around $3 million.

Several local agencies use the advanced earthquake information and cameras including Cal Fire.

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