Gov. Norm Bangerter again defended the Great Salt Lake pumping project Monday and told visiting engineers the project is an "engineering marvel" as well as a tourist attraction.
"I think the right decision was made. Lakeshore industry now has a cushion of safety," said the governor at the national Earthquake Engineering and Soil Dynamics II conference in Park City."I believe in that old adage, `an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,' not to mention the fact that prevention is much more cost-effective," he said.
Bangerter told the engineers that the flooding problems Utah has faced are trivial when compared with the potential impact of a major earthquake - which predictors say has a 90 percent chance of happening along the Wasatch Front in the next 50 years.
The decisions made by government leaders, he said, are only as good as the information they receive. Bangerter challenged the "experts" to provide information and advice that will help such leaders develop sound prevention and response policies.
"I need you to compile more area-specific information that is useful for state agencies as well as planners, builders and architects - so that they can use this information in their planning to avoid the most sensitive areas; and in construction designs to make structures earthquake resistant," Bangerter said.
Engineers from around the country are attending the meeting to learn and share recent advancements concerning ground movement in earthquakes, said T. Leslie Youd, conference chairman and professor of civil engineering at Brigham Young University.
"Our understanding of what's going on in the Wasatch Fault has changed greatly in the last 10 years," said Youd. "In the last five years in Utah, the level of understanding and enforcement of the uniform building codes has come a long way."
William J. Hall, head of the civil engineering department at the University of Illinois, Urbana, said the construction of nuclear power plants, the Alaska pipeline, offshore oil platforms and other industrial facilities have served to emphasize the need for more stringent building codes in case of an earthquake.
"We've made a lot of progress in the building codes," he said. "Such codes are presently in a period of synthesis and consolidation."
Hall said seismologists and engineers continue to learn about ground movement with every earthquake, including the recent quakes in California.