Bay Area water officials working to safeguard systems in case of quake on Hayward Fault

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A major quake on the Hayward Fault could impact the Bay Area's drinking water supply. On Tuesday, during Earthquake Awareness Month, ABC7 News went on a rare behind-the-scenes tour to see what's being done to safeguard the systems.

A crush-proof water main - East Bay MUD demonstrated the bounce back capability of what's called "cured in place" pipe.

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Using robots, they're threading the thick, flat fabric pipe into water mains and inflating it to keep water flowing.

"We have this older pipe that's breaking at an increasing rate so we are taking a careful measured approach to replacing these pipes with seismic resilient pipes, pipes that withstand ground deformation during an earthquake event so our customers stay in service," EBMUD Pipeline Rebuild Manager David Katzev said.

"An earthquake on the Hayward Fault in our service area, we think that maximum earthquake would result in 7 feet of offset," said Director of Water at EBMUD, Richard Sykes.

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That's 7 feet of movement, right here where the water mains actually cross the Hayward Fault. Some will undoubtedly break.

The plan is to insert temporary flexible lines to "jump" the fault and maintain water flow.

Then there are 58 vulnerable tanks in the East Bay Hills to worry about.

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"The tank is 9 million gallons," one official said.

This new concrete tank under construction in Castro Valley is expected to withstand a 7.0 magnitude quake.

Also of concern is what are called inter-ties, the connectors between seven different water districts that would allow them to back each other up.

"There will be a big earthquake some day and I would bet that maybe two of those connections break. We just don't know what two. So we need facilities like this to help out across the line, whichever way we might need to," said Hetch Hetchy Regional Water Authority's Steve Ritchie.

Right now, in a race to beat the next quake, EBMUD is aiming to replace 40 miles of pipe per year out of 4,000 miles of line. Even at that rate, it would take 100 years to replace it all.

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