2015 EERI NC Chapter Awards

This year’s Chapter Awards for Innovation and Exemplary Practice in Earthquake Risk Reduction go to Craig D. Comartin and The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for their Water System Improvement Program.

Craig Comartin has been selected to receive the 2015 Individual Award for Innovation and Exemplary Practice in Earthquake Risk Reduction for his leadership and dedication in creating the Concrete Coalition and to advancing the practice of performance-based engineering.


Chapter President Betsy Mathieson presents the individual award to Joe Maffei, who accepted the award on behalf of Craig D. Comartin.

Over his forty-year career in structural and earthquake engineering, Craig has made many professional contributions to earthquake risk reduction, his most notable being the creation of the Concrete Coalition.  Since before the 1971 San Fernando earthquake, earthquake engineers recognized the risks posed by non-ductile concrete buildings, but the public remained largely unaware of the risk and effective mitigation programs proved elusive.  Created under Craig’s vision and leadership, the Concrete Coalition has been an effective change agent that has energized the earthquake engineering community to take effective actions and speak with a common voice. In conjunction with his efforts to engage the community, Craig has advocated for and been involved several important projects to develop engineering models to assess and retrofit non-ductile concrete buildings, including an NSF-supported NEES Grand Challenge Project and FEMA-supported ATC projects.  The Concrete Coalition, along with related research and development efforts, have been the enabling catalyst for landmark initiatives by San Francisco, Los Angeles and other communities to develop programs and policies to seismically evaluate and retrofit existing hazardous concrete buildings.

Craig has also been instrumental in developing and implementing modern performance-based approaches to seismic risk mitigation and resilience.  Throughout his career, he has appreciated the important of soil-structure interaction on the seismic design and behavior of structures, and he has continually advocated for incorporating soil-structure interaction in performance-based design.  Craig has correctly believed that soil-structure interaction has a lot to do with the better-than-expected performance of low-rise and shear wall buildings, and his ideas and insights on soil-structure interaction are evident in the first-generation performance-based engineering guidelines (e.g., FEMA 273, ATC-40) continuing into present guidelines (ASCE 41).  Beginning in the late 1990’s when today’s comprehensive performance-based approaches were still being formulated, Craig embraced emerging ideas in seismic risk mitigation projects at Stanford University, UC Berkeley and other organizations to develop campus-wide risk models to help establish building performance criteria and seismic retrofit priorities.  Subsequently, Craig was instrumental in developing the financial loss estimation modules that have been implemented in the FEMA 58 performance-based seismic design guidelines.

Throughout his career, Craig has been a guiding light on innovative approaches to earthquake risk mitigation – providing focus and direction, while selflessly dedicating himself to his profession and the public.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Water System Improvement Program 

One of the Bay Area’s major water sources comes 167 miles from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park to San Francisco and crosses three of the Bay Area’s major faults—the Calaveras, Hayward, and San Andreas faults.  In November, 2002 San Francisco voters approved a $3.6 billion bond measure to upgrade, repair, and replace the aging water infrastructure supplying 2.6 million customers, which include the retail customers in San Francisco as well as 26 wholesale customers that serve Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.  The multi-year capital improvement program, named the Water System Improvement Program (WSIP), is one of the largest water infrastructure programs in the nation and now 90% complete.  It has included 83 projects at a total cost of $4.8 billion with upgrades to both the regional and local water systems operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).


Chapter President Betsy Matheison presents the award to Katie Miller, P.E., and Alan Johanson, two members of the SFPUC team that spearheaded the Water System Improvement Program.

A major part of this program was designing and building seismic resilient facilities that deliver water reliably in the event of a major earthquake within the region, including earthquakes on any one of the three major faults that the regional system crosses.  In doing so, the SFPUC developed performance criteria for system-wide service after earthquakes.  There are short-term (24 hours) and long-term (30 days) levels of service goals for seismic reliability.  Short-term service goals are based on delivering basic service (average winter month delivery) of 215 million gallons per day (MGD) to at least 70% of the turnouts within each customer group within 24 hours after a major earthquake.  And, it is assumed that no significant repairs are performed in the first 24 hours after a major earthquake.  The long-term performance criteria assume that temporary repairs are made within 30 days to restore average day delivery of 300 MGD to customers.  The SFPUC performance criteria were critical for the implementation of hydraulic network modeling to assist system planning, and the integration of project designs and construction management to deliver specific water supply targets.  They serve as an important model the type of system-wide lifeline system performance goals that are needed to support community resilience.

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