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California to receive federal funding for water, earthquake needs

April 16, 2009|Jia-Rui Chong and Bettina Boxall

At two stops in Northern California on Wednesday, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced infusions of millions in federal stimulus money to upgrade the state's water infrastructure and modernize earthquake monitoring systems, including $40 million for groundwater pumping and other projects to ease effects of the drought.

Salazar detailed the $260-million pledge for water projects at a midday appearance in Rancho Cordova with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A significant amount of the money will go toward long-term projects, including $26 million for fish restoration in Battle Creek and $110 million for a screened pumping plant on the Sacramento River to aid salmon passage while maintaining irrigation deliveries.

"We believe we can't fix all of this without the federal government," Schwarzenegger said.

Salazar announced the funding after a helicopter tour with Schwarzenegger of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the source of much of California's water and the center of decades of conflict between environmental concerns and water supply needs.

Salazar announced the $29.4-million budget for improving the national and international earthquake monitoring network at a San Francisco news conference later in the afternoon.

"The timely delivery of earthquake information can mean the difference between life and death," he said in a statement. "With nearly 75 million Americans living within earthquake-prone areas, this investment is long overdue."

About two-thirds of the money will go toward modernizing seismic networks across the United States, said Bill Leith, who coordinates the Advanced National Seismic System for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Some of the old seismometers most in need of replacement include "short-period analog sensors," which do not record the full range of ground motion, Leith said.

Other improvements will shorten the period of time seismologists have to wait before collecting information from sensors in the field.

The rest of the money will go toward improving GPS stations that measure deformation in the earth's crust and to seismic stations in other parts of the world operated by the United States, Leith said.

It was unclear how much of the $29 million would end up in California because the call for proposals has not gone out yet, Interior officials said.

But given the state's high level of earthquake risk and existing partnerships between local universities and the Geological Survey, California will probably receive "a significant portion," officials said.

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jia-rui.chong@latimes.com

bettina.boxall@latimes.com

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