Napa earthquake: legislator willing to seek state general funds for early warning system if necessary

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Democratic State Sen. Alex Padilla on Monday said he'd be willing to request general funds from state coffers to pay for an earthquake early warning system.

A prototype of an early warning system at UC Berkeley got 10 seconds' notice before shaking arrived from Sunday’s 6.0 earthquake in Napa County.

Last year, the legislature passed a law sponsored by Padilla that called for the development of a similar system for the entire state.

Padilla, who represents parts of the San Fernando Valley, told KPCC Monday that he expects officials with the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) to finalize a funding plan for the $80 million alert system by early next year.

Related: Calif. quake early warning system runs on a shoe-string budget

The money is expected to come from public and private sources, but under Padilla's law, no funds from the state's general fund can be part of the mix.

OES has until January 2016 to identify funding sources. But if no plan is in place by then, Padilla said he would ask fellow lawmakers to open the state's wallet. The Pacoima Democrat is running for Secretary of State in November. 

“I am confident that we will be able to secure and identify funding from other sources," Padilla said. "But I think if necessary, we, in the future, should revisit the general fund."

Related: House puts first money into earthquake early warning system; hurdles remain

In Congress, House and Senate appropriations committees have voted to earmark $5 million for an earthquake early warning system.  

Padilla added that the City of Los Angeles also recently landed a $5 million dollar grant from FEMA for the effort.

It's just a start, he says, but he expects more money to be found soon.

"Will continue to look for federal opportunities, for private sector opportunities until the system is up and running,” Padilla said.

Doug Givens with the US Geological Survey says the prototype system worked well during Sunday's quake.

He says at the moment, the prototype's early warnings mainly go out to scientists for research purposes.

"Hopefully we'll be able to deploy it on a broader scale, on a public scale in the next year or so."

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