How we are preparing
Protecting your water and sewer systems
In the aftermath of a major earthquake or other major incident, our top priority will be to restore the water and sewer systems as soon as possible so that our customers will have access to these services. Preparing for emergencies is nothing new for us. Even though our distribution systems are younger than others in the region, and are constructed with newer materials, we place a heavy emphasis on resiliency and redundancy of our systems and never stop looking for ways to improve. For the past several years, we have been examining many of the potential impacts to our systems, learning how we can address these issues, and executing capital improvement projects that further strengthen our systems.
Seismic Vulnerability Assessment
A key part of being prepared is evaluating potential problems before they happen. Back in 2014, we completed a Seismic Vulnerability Assessment with an outside consulting firm to learn how well our systems would withstand a major seismic event. The assessment brought to light areas for enhancement and prioritized key capital improvement projects.
Seismic Pipeline Study
The Seismic Pipeline Study included a vulnerability and criticality analysis to evaluate the overall resilience of the District's water distribution system. The study also specifically looked at alternatives to provide a seismically resistant pipeline from major supply sources in the Issaquah Valley to the Plateau area.The District has identified projects to include in the long-term capital program to further enhance the distribution system resiliency and redundancy.
Water storage tank seismic retrofit projects
We have installed earthquake isolation valves at one of our large water storage tanks. Following a seismic event, this valve closes automatically to preserve the stored water. Saving this water is extremely important for providing safe drinking water, but it’s also vital for maintaining firefighting capability. We have also updated water tank anchors to improve the stability of specific tanks. Other planned tank projects include enhancing the stability of additional tanks.
Additional emergency planning efforts
We recognize that earthquakes are not our only vulnerability, however, so we didn’t stop there:
- We installed backup generators at the majority of our water and sewer facilities to keep systems operating when electricity is not available, and have portable generators available for all others.
- We participate in the King County Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, which reflects a partnership between the County and 55 different cities, schools, fire districts, hospitals and utility districts to identify and mitigate the impacts of disasters.
- We train every staff member on FEMA’s Incident Command System (ICS), and we participate in emergency response training sessions both in-house and with other local agencies.
- We expanded our facility yard size and and added to our pipe supply inventory. This will increase our response time during major water main breaks and increase our capacity to restore services more quickly with materials we have on hand.
- We diminished our dependency on local fuel supplies by building an independent fuel station on our property that can sustain our vehicle fleet for approximately 30 days.
- We have coordinated with Eastside Fire and Rescue and the cities of Sammamish and Issaquah so that we can do our best to balance drinking water and firefighting needs during an emergency incident.
- We are active in mutual aid planning activities with the King County Regional Coordination Framework and the Washington Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WA WARN).
- We are a member of the Water and Sewer Risk Management Pool and have purchased extra insurance to help offset the costs associated with earthquake damage.