VALLEJO (KPIX 5) – Depending on how close to the epicenter of an earthquake you are, you could get more than a minute warning if California can find the funding for a new early warnings system.

The U.S. Geological survey has been working on a prototype early warning system, but it still needs refining. State lawmakers met Wednesday in Vallejo to brainstorm a way to pay for the work.

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Even with sensors all around the Bay Area, California is decades behind other quake-prone regions. Mexico City had a 71 second warning ahead of a 7.2 quake that hit the capital. Their system has been in place for 21 years.

Senator Alex Padilla authored a bill that was passed last year authorizing the creation of the California system, including a central brain that could send out an emergency alert, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“Why we don’t have a system like this in place already is beyond me,” said Padilla.

The bill came with a caveat that the $80 million needed for the system couldn’t come from the state’s general fund.

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“It’s really about time and money and opportunity and we’re leveraging that as we go on,” said Mark Ghilarducci of California Office of Emergency Services.

A new effort is underway to partner with private companies to fund the network of sensors. Planners say the program needs a steady source of income.

Right now the $80 million needed for the first phase of the program is not in Governor Jerry Brown’s budget.

If it can be sourced from individual departments or private groups, some of the money would go toward maintenance of existing earthquake sensors since many are in disrepair.


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