Earthquakes and Water Infrastructure

Residents of the Wasatch Front have often been warned that we are long overdue for the “big one,” a major earthquake that could cause considerable damage throughout the region. But how might a big earthquake affect our supply of drinking water?

According to reporting in the Deseret News on January 12 (Aging aqueducts and earthquakes: Why millions in Utah could end up without water), four key aqueducts along the Wasatch Front that supply more than two million people with water are at risk if a major earthquake strikes the area.

According to the article, millions in Utah could be without water for as long as six months as repairs are made to these critical supply lines.

Other areas of the West, particularly California, also have water infrastructure that is vulnerable to earthquakes.

In Utah, Envision Utah has been working with the Utah Seismic Safety Commission to create priorities for repairing and upgrading critical water infrastructure to better withstand a potential earthquake.

At least some of the vulnerable aqueducts provide a key part of the water supply for Draper residents.

What can we do about this?

There is no such thing as an “earthquake-proof” system. However, much of WaterPro’s infrastructure is relatively new, and was built when seismic science was more advanced. For example, our newest water tanks are some of the most seismically sound tanks in the industry.

For the short term, we urge our customers to store enough water for a few days in case of an interruption to the supply. For a more long-term solution, please support water system upgrades to protect our region, our economy, and our way of life.