Lack of Preparation – Yes, it’s Your Fault September 01 2016, 0 Comments

With tornadoes, hurricanes, and tropical storms performing their biggest finales, it is no wonder that September is National Preparedness Month. However, along the West Coast, geologists are tracking something more threatening than meteorological phenomena.

The San Andreas fault, which runs along the Californian coast, last produced a major earthquake in 1857. Nonetheless, fossil evidence and modern technology measure that its plates have moved at a rate of 2 inches per year for the last several million years. While this movement has caused minor earthquakes in California since the disaster of 150 years before, the San Andreas is due for another big tremor.

But the San Andreas is the least of our worries. The Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ), which runs from Canada to northern California, has the potential to unleash what would be the worst natural disaster in United States history. An estimated thirty times stronger than the San Andreas, historical and geological records indicate that tremors from the CSZ initiated a tsunami in Japan in 1700. As this was its last major tremor, science suggests that it will produce another – reaching up to 9.0 magnitude – soon.

It goes without saying that earthquakes can wreak havoc on even the most advanced water systems. To begin at the most natural level, freshwater sources typically undergo stepping, or the permanent raising or lowering of water levels, and oscillation, or erratic water levels, in adjustment to new the sea levels established by tectonic tremors. While these incidences sound minor, they could erode contaminated soil and render water undrinkable.

Earthquakes also have the potential to run sources dry, or to open new sources in unmetered areas. This means that normal reserves could be difficult or impossible to access and that those that are accessible have not undergone proper inspection, sanitation, or upkeep. Especially in rural areas, this could leave consumers’ access to clean water severely compromised.

Despite their modern plumbing, our city-dwelling readers should not consider themselves spared. Changes in the Earth’s crust can cause irreparable damage to underground structures – water mains, in particular. With an eye to older municipal systems and those not reinforced to withstand the pressure of tremors, a damaged water main could mean lack of access to running water, as well as severely contaminated tap water.

Indeed, such a disaster would take years to rehabilitate. The situation is made all the direr by the fact that only nine U.S. states (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Tennessee) report safe levels of lead in their water supply, and that the remaining 41 have reported lead at Action Level Exceedance (ALE) for the past three years.

The threat to water alone tells us that we should prepare for natural disasters, earthquakes or otherwise, however very few of us actually do. Only a fraction of the population has a stock of water and a way to purify it, in addition to an arsenal of non-perishable foods and a working, non-wired source of communication. Indeed, most individuals have only the contents of their cupboards, and some even less than that. Should this trend continue, there will be more people who are needing help than can help, in a disaster situation.

Luckily, we can reverse the pattern in a supremely sustainable way. Adya Water Filters are portable, require no electricity or pumping, and can purify even the most contaminated water, and ready it for pouring into a reusable bottle. If you want to save on the cost of the full filtering system, the compact Adya Clarity® Water Purification Solution can also make any freshwater source - up to 99.9% pure, and is an excellent way to treat stored water for extended periods of time. Both items are essential additions to any emergency preparedness kit.

Unlike hurricanes and forest fires, science cannot predict exactly when earthquakes will happen. Fossil evidence gives us a ballpark estimate, but it’s ultimately up to us to watch the signs, keep a mind to the environment, and take action. By being prepared, we can save both money and our natural resources.

Sources:

Imam, Jareen.  “Overdue California quake greater than thought, report says.” CNN.  Cable News Network, 15 Mar. 2016.  Web.

Martinez, Michael, Elam, Stephanie, and Nieves, Rosalina.  “The quake-maker you’ve never heard of: Cascadia.” CNN.  Cable News Network, 13 Feb. 2016.  Web.

Nace, Trevor.  “The San Andreas Fault Is On The Brink Of A Devastating Earthquake.”  Forbes.  Forbes, 8 May 2016.  Web.

Sneed, Michelle, Galloway, Devin L., and Cunningham, William L.  “Earthquakes – Rattling the Earth’s Plumbing System.” USGS.  United States Geological Survey, 18 Feb. 2014.  Web.