After a big earthquake, it’s key to keep the water system afloat. Water is necessary for life, and it fights the fires that often accompany such disasters. UC Irvine engineers including Masanobu Shinozuka and Pai Chou (pictured) plan to outfit the local water system with sensors that will alert officials when and where pipes crack or break, hastening repair – thanks to nearly $5.7 million over three years from the National Institute of Standards & Technology and several local water groups. “When an earthquake occurs and infrastructure systems fail, continued service of the water network is most critical,” says Shinozuka, lead project investigator and civil & environmental engineering chair.