LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — California lawmakers say President Barack Obama’s recommendation to spend $5 million next year on an early earthquake warning system for the West Coast represents a significant breakthrough.

KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Burbank Congressman Adam Schiff, both Democrats, say the move marks the first time Obama has included funding for the project in his annual budget recommendation.

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The Earthquake Early Warning system, which is being developed by Caltech, UC-Berkeley and the University of Washington in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey, can provide the public with up to a minute or more of warning before shaking hits, depending on the distance to the epicenter.

The funding, which was announced in December, will allow those developing the statewide system to begin purchasing and installing additional sensors, build new stations, speed up the USGS ShakeAlert system, and come closer to deploying comprehensive early earthquake warning coverage throughout earthquake prone regions of the West Coast, according to lawmakers.

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While $5 million is still short of the $16 million in total funding, Schiff points out it’s where the money is coming from that makes a difference.

“Previously we were able to get funding, but it was a Congressionally initiated process…we did ask the President for his support in this, and that support came through,” said Schiff. “It’s very significant and a good sign for the future.”

A limited system that has already been deployed for test users has proved that the early warning technology is sound, Schiff added.

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