Nine days without power: My ice storm story as an EWEB customer and employee
While beautiful and peaceful, buying a home on the edge of the forest and surrounded by trees has its tradeoffs. Moving “upriver,” I knew there would be more threats to prepare for, including Mother Nature’s seasonal surprises.Find Out More
Preparation and Resilience: How EWEB Maintained Water Service During Recent Ice Storm
Learn about the projects and people that helped EWEB keep water flowing throughout the extreme weather event.Find Out More
EWEB crews focusing on restoring electric service for Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant
With more ice forecasted for Tuesday, all EWEB crews are in the field assessing outages and restoring power.Find Out More
Let's talk turkey. If a disaster strikes, is your family ready?
Many of us avoid discussing politics over the dinner table in the spirit of family peace and harmony. But here's a topic that can bring everyone together: emergency preparedness.Find Out More
Your EWEB Rates at Work: Investing Today for a Resilient Tomorrow
For more than a century, EWEB has planned, built, and maintained the systems that deliver safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible power and water to Eugene homes and businesses.Find Out More
Fall is the perfect time to prepare for winter storm season
Winter is coming, which increases the likelihood of storm-related power outages. It's important to be prepared, and there are simple actions you can take right now.Find Out More
EWEB lead annual "Spill Drill"
EWEB coordinates drill as part of protecting Eugene’s drinking waterFind Out More
Salmon Return to Finn Rock Reach
Finn Rock Reach and other restoration projects throughout the Middle McKenzie provide conditions to help young fish survive to adulthood.Find Out More
EWEB programs reflect community values
EWEB is here to serve our customer-owners and provides programs that reflect the values of our community.Find Out More
EWEB Prepares for the Annual Observance of "Imagine a Day Without Water"
Water infrastructure is essential, invaluable, and in need of continuous investment. Read how EWEB's Staff and Board of Commissioners are working to safeguard Eugene's water future.Find Out More
National Preparedness Month: Older adults take control in 1, 2, 3
We know older adults can face greater risks when it comes to the extreme weather events and emergencies we face, especially if they are living alone, are low-income, have a disability, depend on electricity for medical needs, or live in rural areas.Find Out More
Bethel neighbors boost emergency preparedness during Emergency Water Station event
Staff gave out about 300 emergency water containers to enthusiastic community members eager to learn more about the water station.Find Out More
How does EWEB recover the costs of serving customers
Here’s an overview of the three primary ways EWEB recovers the costs of serving customers and generates the funds needed to keep the power on and the water flowing.Find Out More
Stay cool during extreme heat events
With temperatures forecasted to reach over 100 degrees over the next several days, we've prepared some tips and tricks to help you stay cool.Find Out More
Women in STEM: Meet our servant leader and maker of tough decisions
Karen Kelley, Chief Operations Officer at EWEB, describes herself as a "servant leader," offering support and mentoring to four division managers at EWEB.Find Out More
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EWEB’s water infrastructure projects designed for reliability during major disasters
October 19, 2023 • Claire Wray, EWEB Communications
EWEB is investing more than $200 million in major water infrastructure projects in the next 10 years with the goal of ensuring reliable water service even during a major natural disaster, such as an earthquake.
On Oct. 19, EWEB will participate in two national days of action: “The Great Shakeout” earthquake drill and “Imagine a Day Without Water.” The overlap of the two events is significant because multiple major infrastructure projects EWEB is currently building or planning are specifically designed to withstand major earthquakes.
Scientists and state officials have been warning Oregonians about the threat of a major earthquake for years. According to Oregon officials, there is a 37% chance that an extreme, 7.1+ magnitude earthquake will strike the Pacific Northwest in the next 50 years. The quake would originate from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where three ocean-based tectonic plates are sliding under the North American Plate, which underlies most of the continental U.S.
Scientists say that a major earthquake in the Cascadia subduction zone is overdue.
“We can’t take water for granted. Delivering clean, safe drinking water to about 200,000 people every day requires us to invest in resilient infrastructure across our entire system,” said Karen Kelley, EWEB’s chief operations officer. “Right now, that means upgrading water storage tanks and transmission pipelines based on known risks like the Cascadia Earthquake.”
An earthquake of the magnitude forecasted for the Pacific Northwest can produce as many as five to seven minutes of shaking and rolling. That movement creates significant challenges for water infrastructure. Water in storage tanks can form damaging slosh waves breaking through sidewalls and roofs. And underground pipes can be flexed unnaturally, leading to breakage. Such damage could lead to extended water outages.
It’s hard to imagine losing access to running water. Without it, there is nothing to drink, wash hands, brush teeth, or complete so many other activities essential to life and health. And without water, it’s not possible to provide sanitation services or fight fires.
To avoid catastrophic outages, EWEB is focused on reinforcing its “resilient spine” of water infrastructure. Construction of new, earthquake-resilient water tanks at East 40th Avenue is nearing completion. The hardening of a major transmission pipeline on Hilyard Street is also underway. More water transmission projects are planned, including a major project spanning the Willamette River that will provide redundancy for water transmission from one bank to the other.
Next year, EWEB will begin seismic upgrades at College Hill. That project will include the demolition of the current, aged, rectangular reservoir so that resilient, round storage tanks can be built in its place. A new water transmission main will be built with that project.
Fortifying this infrastructure is essential for avoiding a day, or – as history has shown is possible after major earthquakes – several weeks or even months without running water, if a disaster were to strike Eugene.
EWEB is making infrastructure earthquake resilient.
EWEB is following the latest best practices in resilient infrastructure design.
New water storage tanks are constructed out of reinforced, prestressed concrete to achieve a high load capacity both laterally and vertically. The height and roofs of the tanks are designed to withstand earthquake-induced slosh waves. During construction, the tanks are wrapped with high-strength steel wire, which is then encased in shotcrete. Finally, the tanks are designed with a flexible base connection between the floor and wall that allows load transfer during an earthquake.
The piping connecting the tanks to the distribution system has flexible pipe couplings with double-ball joints that can move in every direction. And remotely operated seismic valves can isolate tanks from the distribution system downstream.
New, earthquake-resilient pipelines are constructed out of welded steel, which is the one of the most seismically robust materials available and can have a lifespan of over 100 years.
EWEB is improving resiliency through other means.
In addition to upgrading infrastructure, EWEB has set up emergency water distribution wells and operates two mobile treatment trailers to deploy in emergencies.
The emergency water stations are strategically located around the city. If a disaster strikes, the stations will be set up and pumps will draw water from underground wells so that residents will have an essential amount of water. EWEB has completed five water stations; two more are planned.
EWEB also encourages customers to adopt resilient practices on their own. Customers can participate in EWEB’s Pledge to Prepare program, which guides them through creating an emergency preparedness kit and stockpiling enough water and food to last two weeks without basic services.
“It can sound cliché, but water really is life,” Kelley said. “EWEB is taking these precautions so that in the event of a disaster, we will have the best chance at having water available for drinking and to put out fires, and to keep hospitals running.”
Read more about EWEB’s water resiliency efforts at https://www.eweb.org/waterreliability.