Big Quake Could Weaken Levees

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, April 17, 2006

While the Sacramento area doesn’t face the same level of threat as the Bay Area, UC Davis Geology professor Ken Verosub says a big enough quake nearby could cause flooding in the valley. 

"It’s quite possible that a major earthquake in San Francisco or even a moderate earthquake in the valley would take out some of the levees." 

And Verosub says ruptured levees would allow salt water to rush into the river system which would jeopardize the water supply. 

"If you took out a levee in the Delta and you flooded a major island, then you would wind up with what’s called the Big Gulp where you suck all that salt water into the Delta and then you can’t pump fresh water out and send it to LA."

Verosub says the best way to guard against a quake-induced levee failure is to start a massive levee repair program and not allow more people to move near levees that are at risk.