Bill would require reports on vulnerability of local water infrastructure to quakes

SB 664 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg would help prevent water shortages

March 24, 2015

SACRAMENTO – With a fourth-straight year of drought driving home the precarious nature of California’s water supplies, Sen. Bob Hertzberg today announced a bill requiring regional water-management officials to report the vulnerability of their water systems to an earthquake.

“Public policymakers cannot ignore forecasts showing a greater than 99-percent chance of a 6.7 earthquake within the next 30 years,” Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said about the need for Senate Bill 664. “Much of California’s infrastructure, including key water-delivery systems, remains seismically unsafe and extremely vulnerable.”

Hertzberg and residents of his San Fernando Valley district know well what how devastating an earthquake can be. In 1991, the infamous 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake left 57 dead, more than 9,000 injured and caused more than $40 billion in damages.

Two years earlier in Northern California, the 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake killed 63, injured more than 3,700 and caused more than $6 billion damages.

By comparison, the most deadly California earthquake, the 7.8 Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, killed 3,000 and caused $13 billion in inflation-adjusted damages.

“Each of these quakes resulted in devastating damages to water systems, interrupting fire-fighting efforts and leaving thirsty residents lining up for scant water supplies,” Hertzberg said. “Drought scientists now predict our changing climate will increase the frequency, length and severity of droughts in California. The time to act is now.”

That action, under SB 664, addresses Integrated Regional Water Management Plans, a collaborative effort overseen by the state Department of Water Resources to identify and use water-management solutions on a regional scale to increase regional self-reliance, reduce conflict and manage water. If approved, SB 664 could direct all IRWM Plans to include an assessment or evaluation of the seismic vulnerability of the water infrastructure.  

Today’s announcement follows a recent Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reporting that identified $15 billion in potential need for seismic upgrades to water infrastructure. Last November, voters approved a water bond that provides $810 million to IRWM projects. If Hertzberg’s bill is signed into law, seismic-safety upgrades would be eligible for funding.

The initial policy hearing on SB 664 has not yet been set.

For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 664, click HERE or visit Hertzberg’s Web site at the address below.

Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map HERE or at  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg built an international renewable energy business; invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through two civic groups: California Forward and the Think Long Committee of California. More HERE or at


Communications Director
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Senate District 18
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4018 office; 916 834-1128 cell



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