EVERETT -- Everett’s Public Works headquarters is crumbling.

Cracks in the walls started surfacing after Washington’s last major earthquake -- the Nisqually quake of 2001 -- and nobody at the facility wants to see what happens when the next big shaker strikes.

“There could be something more catastrophic with some injuries associated with it,” said Public Works Director Dave Davis.

Engineers have determined three buildings on the aging campus are vulnerable to collapse from a major earthquake.

They’ve recommended the buildings be torn down and rebuilt. The oldest building is 45 years old and was constructed before current earthquake safety standards. Davis said the more than 160 people who work inside the buildings are at risk every time they come to work.

“You can have minor issues or you can have major issues. You can even have catastrophic issues,” said Davis.

The issue impacts people far beyond the city limits of Everett.

Some 570,000 people all across Snohomish County depend on Everett’s water supply. They also depend on water for things like fire hydrants that could prove critical during a disaster.

“We need to be able to respond 24/7 the day of the quake, the week after and the months and years following,” said Davis.

A total rebuild of the three buildings has been deemed most cost effective but comes with a price tag of $70 million.

That cost would be passed on to rate payers though annual increases of $1.80 every month. That means by year four, you’d be paying $93 per year more than you are now. The increases are expected to stop by 2021.

Davis has to convince the Everett City Council before moving forward. He acknowledges no one like a rate hike, but sees little choice.

“We have to be there for the public. It’s our duty,” he said. “Hopefully people will understand and appreciate that.”