Geologist: Cutting funds for early earthquake warning system is 'irresponsible'

Geologist Gregg Wilkerson is seen in a KBAK/KBFX file photo.

Every second counts in an earthquake. That's why experts are developing an early warning system.

"Just a few seconds or a minute or two of early warning can make all the difference in the world," geologist Gregg Wilkerson said.

A West Coast early warning system is ready to be rolled out next year, but President Donald Trump's proposed budget for 2018 pulls funding.

Wilkerson said the system will save lives in an earthquake, and California is expected to see a big one soon.

"We could save as high as 20,000 fatalities depending on where and when," he said.

The warning system uses sensor to detect the quake, and then a computer takes the data and sends out a text message to warn people.

"Not to implement it or not to try to develop it, I think it is just irresponsible," Wilkerson said.

The fight over the proposed budget now goes to Congress, and Trump's budget proposal can change significantly.

Congressman David Valadao sent Eyewitness News a statement:

“Our nation faces some tough challenges that require difficult decision-making. Reforming our nation’s spending priorities in order to get our national debt under control is the key to increasing economic growth and expanding job creation, creating more opportunity for all Americans, especially those in the Central Valley. However, the President’s budget request is just that a request. As Congress considers funding levels for FY2018, I will work diligently to ensure the critical services my constituents depend on remain available to them.”

Wilkerson said too many people believe in this project for it to shut down, but if they do not get the funding it will slow everything down, which is taking a risk.

"We do not know when these big earthquakes are going to hit, so setting up a program like that now is better than waiting," he said.

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