Seismic Resilience Planning

Earthquake preparedness is nothing new to those living in the Pacific Northwest. Local faults in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California periodically cause ground shaking that damages our utility infrastructure. Now, with the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) earthquake in the spotlight, utilities are increasingly concerned about the performance of their system and long-term recovery after a seismic event.

Scientists predict a 37% chance of a Magnitude 8+ Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake occurring in the next 50 years.

Engineering consulting firms are rising to the challenge of seismic resilience planning and design, and RH2 is no exception. RH2 staff have a wide breadth of seismic resilience planning and design expertise.

From seismic planning, earthquake early warning systems, performance assessments, to retrofits and seismic designs, we offer a full suite of seismic resilience services to strengthen our infrastructure and ensure long-term viability of our communities after the CSZ event.

Seismic Planning

Finding the right balance between emergency preparedness and affordability for your customers begins with proper planning. Determining which pipelines and facilities should be assessed and possibly improved is influenced by several factors, and RH2 has the in-house expertise to help guide you through the process.

ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System

ShakeAlert is a West Coast earthquake early warning system developed by USGS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. It consists of a network of hundreds of sensors geographically distributed throughout the region. The information received is processed and distributed to the other data centers and an expanding number of approved end users. Now in the pilot program phase, RH2 is approved by USGS to provide technical assistance to help water/wastewater and transportation agencies obtain and use the signals.

As a pilot program user, your agency can begin to receive ShakeAlert signals to alert staff and take automatic actions, such as throttling valves, turning off motorized equipment, and de-energizing electrical control panels. RH2 can assist your agency with setting parameters (i.e. earthquake strength, time to shaking at your location, and the calculated reliability of the warning) for these actions to occur.

Structural Performance Assessments

Understanding how your infrastructure will perform during the earthquake and what improvements will cost is essential to finding the right balance of risk and affordability. RH2’s in-house structural team provides an array of structural performance assessments for pipes, reservoirs, pump stations, treatment plants, buildings, and other structures. As part of these assessments, we offer:

  • Vulnerability Assessments
  • Benefit-Cost Analyses
  • Grant Funding Assistance
  • Seismic Resilience Capital Planning

Seismic Design and Retrofits

Strength and flexibility are critical functions for designing infrastructure to withstand seismic forces. RH2 brings extensive seismic design knowledge to our clients in the northwest. We design structures to withstand code-level seismic loads and piping connections that meet prescribed flexibility and joint deflection required during earthquake events. Our design and retrofit services include reservoirs, pump stations, treatment plants, buildings, pipes, and implementation of Earthquake Early Warning (ShakeAlert) systems. With experience assisting clients in both Washington and Oregon, our engineers and scientists are aware of the most up-to-date seismic standards and design requirements.

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