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ACEC WA Bronze Award for Future Value to Engineering Profession | 2019
ShakeAlert Pilot Program Implementation, Northeast Sammamish Sewer and Water District

Although earthquake preparedness is not a new topic of discussion in the Pacific Northwest, more municipalities, utilities, and citizens are taking a closer look at how to best plan for an inevitable seismic event. The Northeast Sammamish Sewer and Water District is proactively preparing for the impacts of a large earthquake on their water system by implementing ShakeAlert.

RH2 Engineering teamed with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) to develop a robust Advanced Seismic Controller (ASC) device that allows approved utilities to receive the ShakeAlert signal.

This signal, which is processed and distributed by hundreds of sensors across the West Coast to the other data centers and approved end users, provides users with real-time data about the time to shaking, earthquake intensity, depth, and other relevant information. RH2 is one of the few engineering consultants approved by USGS to provide technical assistance to help water, wastewater, and transportation agencies obtain and use the ShakeAlert system and signals. RH2 works with each utility to determine specific automatic actions, such as throttling valves, turning off pumps and other expensive mechanical equipment, and de-energizing electrical control panels. RH2 also assists in setting individualized ShakeAlert signal parameters (i.e., earthquake strength, time to shaking at your location, and the calculated reliability of the warning) for these actions to occur.

Northeast Sammamish Sewer and Water District is charged with providing potable water supply to the residents of the east Lake Sammamish plateau. In this capacity, the District is responsible for ensuring that water is available for both firefighting purposes and long-term health and human safety following an earthquake. After being approved for the ShakeAlert pilot program, which allows the District to more effectively plan for and mitigate the social and economic impacts of a major seismic event, RH2 assisted the District with identifying multiple benefits for implementing ShakeAlert that would support their responsibilities during and after a major earthquake. This includes retaining water for potable needs, shutting down motorized equipment to reduce damage, shutting down power to avoid electrical fires, and notifying water and wastewater system operations staff to get to safety.

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