Learn how to photograph plants — Wednesday evening at The Garden

Learn how to photograph plants — Wednesday evening at The Garden

Invite a friend to The Water Conservation Garden this Wednesday, August 9th, 5:00-7:00pm for the Plant Paparrazzi class. Docent instructors Harold Bailey and Sally Long will cover the technical and composition aspects of taking stunning photos of plants and landscapes, whether you have an SLR camera or a smartphone. If you have a tripod, bring it along. Beginner to intermediate level.

Plant Paparrazzi Class
5:00-7:00pm, Wednesday, August 9th
At The Water Conservation Garden
Members Free, Non-members $10

Helix recognized for transparent governance

Helix recognized for transparent governance

The Special District Leadership Foundation has awarded Helix a District Transparency Certificate of Excellence in recognition of our efforts to provide transparent and accessible government.

To receive the award, a special district must provide public access, financial transparency and public outreach to the communities it serves.

“This award is a testament to our day to day commitment to open government,” said General Manager Carlos Lugo. “The entire district staff contributes, and they empower our customers with information.”

The Special District Leadership Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization formed to promote good governance and best practices among California’s special districts through certification, accreditation, and other recognition programs. Special districts are local public agencies established by local voters to deliver core services, such as water, sanitation, fire protection, parks and recreation and more.

What follows are the steps we take, and the information we provide, to assure that Helix is providing open government.

Public Access

We provide our customers and the public with access to meetings, the decision-making process, elected board members and key staff.


Board of Directors

  • Board meetings are open to the public
  • Meetings schedule is on district website
  • Meeting agenda packages are posted on website
  • Board members must speak openly in meetings
  • Archive of meeting minutes on website
  • Board members receive ethics training
  • Conflict of interest policy on website
  • Board elections procedure on website
  • Board member names, terms and contact information on website


Other Information on Website

  • Mission statement
  • Authorizing statute
  • Description of services
  • Public Records Act Policy
  • Public records request form
  • General manager and key staff names and contact information


Financial Transparency

We post on our website the information needed to track the district’s finances month to month and year to year.



Financial Documents on Website

  • Current and past budgets
  • Annual financial audits
  • Financial reports in board agenda packages
  • Financial transactions filing with State Controller
  • Compensation filing with State Controller
  • Financial reserves policy
  • Disclosure of reimbursements to board members and employees


Public Outreach

We keep our customers, the public and our elected officials up to date on district activities.


Communications Channels

  • Website
  • Blog posts and email subscriptions
  • Social media — Nextdoor, Facebook and Twitter
  • Newsletter
  • Water bill envelope and message area
  • Classes for customers
  • Events for customers


Meet Bob Friedgen

Meet Bob Friedgen

Photo: Bob Friedgen on top of Mt. Helix.

Bob Friedgen went to work for the La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley Irrigation District in 1955 — the year before it was renamed Helix Irrigation District — and retired in 1998 after 18 years as the district’s general manager. Today, Friedgen visits Helix at least once a year, to meet the local high school senior selected as the recipient of the scholarship that bears his name.

Karen Pearlman, who covers Helix for the San Diego Union Tribune, recently interviewed Friedgen about his time at Helix and what he’s up to now.

Read Karen’s Story

Jennings Fire — thank you first responders

Jennings Fire — thank you first responders

July 12 — the San Diego Union Tribune reported this morning that the Jennings Fire was no longer threatening Harbison Canyon residents thanks to the efforts of seven air tankers, four helicopters, about 250 firefighters and 11 hand crews. All of us at Helix would like to say “Thank You”.

The four helicopters pulled water out of Lake Jennings throughout the afternoon yesterday as the fire grew, and refueled in the parking lot at the front of the park.

Helicopter Photos / taken by Rachel O’Brien.

The fire is not growing any more. Right now I see zero smoke and fire.
(From San Diego Union Tribune)

Isaac Sanchez

Captain, Cal Fire

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thomas Jefferson

Helix Helps at Clean El Cajon Day

Helix Helps at Clean El Cajon Day

This past Saturday, June 17, 2017, Helix Water District joined with community volunteers in the first ever Clean El Cajon Day at Wells Park.  Under the “Helix Helps” program, over 20 Helix employees, families and friends volunteered their Saturday morning to support one of the many communities that the district serves.

The clean-up was held in the well-shaded, 18 acre park that is surrounded by homes and businesses and is heavily used year round. The City partnered with Waste Management, which provided the necessary materials needed for the cleanup as well as free tee shirts for community members in attendance. See the YouTube video of Saturdays cleanup at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlwMJfp11NU

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the cities in which we both live and work,” said Carlos Lugo, General Manager of Helix Water District. Through Helix Helps and events like these, Helix employees volunteer to help the communities they serve to continue to be beautiful places to live.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for upcoming events in your neighborhood. Or if there is a future need for volunteers, feel free to let us know at publicaffairs@helixwater.org

Photographers capture moments of local beauty

Photographers capture moments of local beauty

Winners named in annual Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest.

Have you ever imagined the beauty of intense light sparkling from a rippled lake surface… or the majesty of birds in flight, riding a cool breeze just inches above a glass-smooth body of water?  Twenty-four photographers captured these images and many more and entered them in Helix Water District’s Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest.

Seventy images in two categories, adult and youth, competed for top spots in this year’s edition of the annual event that highlights the district’s reservoir and recreation area in San Diego’s East County.

Shutterbugs submitted images covering a wide range of angles and focal points, including scenic shots and portraits of wildlife that call the recreation area home.

Adult Winners

1st Place, Robert Rosenbaum (Eye to Eye)

2nd Place, Kurt Scherbaum (Jack)

3rd Place, Zan Just (Pelican Precision)

Honorable Mention, Jan Taylor (Family Fishing at Sunrise)

Honorable Mention, Billy Ortiz (Full Moon T-Dock)

Honorable Mention, Pat Rendon (Morning Poetry)

Honorable Mention, Mariecor Agravante (Brother & Sister on Boat)

Honorable Mention, Larry Cruikshank (Cactus Bee)

Honorable Mention, Bob Ryan (Full Moon Fishing)

Youth Winners

1st Place, Mary Tran, 17 (Duck)

2nd Place, Devona Kassab, 16 (Lake 2)

3rd Place, Destiny Kassab, 16 (Flower 2)

The Winning Photos

See the gallery of winning images at Facebook.com/LakeJenningsRecreation. Below is the first place photo taken by Robert Rosenbaum. At the top of the page is the second place photo taken by Devona Kassab.

Awards for first, second and third places are $100, $50 and $25, respectively, and honorable mentions receive certificates.

The Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest is a digital competition.  All images, entry forms and model releases are submitted as electronic files via email.

Helix hosting Water is Life art exhibit thru June 20

Helix hosting Water is Life art exhibit thru June 20

Image: Water is Life poster by 3rd grader Melody Yu.

Water is Life posters created by grade 3-11 students throughout Southern California are on exhibit in Helix’s lobby through June 20th. The posters were selected from hundreds of entries in the annual Water is Life poster contest, an educational program from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and Met will feature them in their 2018 Water is Life calendar. Helix and teachers in our service area participate each year.

Drop by if you’re in the neighborhood. Our Administration Office is at 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa.

Helix Helps at Clean El Cajon Day this Saturday

Helix Helps at Clean El Cajon Day this Saturday

Photo: Helix Helps employees at the city of Lemon Grove’s Community Cleanup on Earth Day.

Join Helix Water District employees and their families this Saturday, June 17, from 9am-11am as they volunteer to help clean up Wells Park for Clean El Cajon Day.

Clean El Cajon Day’s first event will be held at Wells Park at 1153 E Madison Avenue. Waste Management is partnering with the City of El Cajon for the event and will provide free shirts to the first 100 to RSVP.

View more information about the event, including instructions on how to RSVP, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tqsyAjZ6Ak.

Under the “Helix Helps” program, Helix employees, families and friends volunteer their time to help support the communities the district serves. Follow Helix on Facebook and Twitter to be notified of future events.

We hope to see you this Saturday!


Helix Awards Scholarships to SDSU-bound Students

Helix Awards Scholarships to SDSU-bound Students

Each year, Helix honors two high school seniors who share our commitment to service, integrity and continuous improvement, and we award them $1,000 scholarships for college.

The scholarships were endowed by Dr. Lillian Childs, who was on Helix’s Board of Directors from 1979 to 1999, and Bob Friedgen, Helix’s general manager from 1980 to 1998. Both were present at our Board meeting on May 24th to meet this year’s recipients.

Nanse Mansor, a senior at Valhalla High School, is the 2017 recipient of the Dr. Lillian M. Childs Scholarship. Mansor plans to major in biology, chemistry or physiology at San Diego State University and continue on to medical school.

She is an honor roll student, a Unity Leader who mentors incoming sophomores at Valhalla, and she dedicates about eight hours a week to community service, tutoring low-income and non-English speaking students, teaching first and second grade students at St. Michael’s Catholic Church and volunteering at the El Cajon Public Library.

Lamees Sharif, a senior at El Cajon Valley High School, is the 2017 recipient of the Robert D. Friedgen Scholarship. Lamees will also attend SDSU next fall, the first step on her path to becoming an oncologist.

In addition to her many extracurricular activities, Sharif is an intern in the office of State Senator Joel Anderson, assisting with research, public speaking and media relations. Sharif is also a bilingual peer tutor for new Syrian refugees.

Photo: Dr. Lillian Childs, Nanse Mansor and Board President Joel Scalzitti.

Photo: Bob Friedgen, Lamees Sharif and Board President Joel Scalzitti.

Eight Young Artists Meet the Board

Eight Young Artists Meet the Board

Parents, siblings, relatives and teachers crowded Helix’s boardroom on May 24th to honor the top artists in this year’s Water is Life Poster Contest.

The contest is an educational program for kindergarten through sixth grade students offered by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Met).  Helix likes the program and offers it to the elementary schools in our service area because it focuses students on the importance of water at a young age.

Students like the program because it’s fun and because their poster could be one of the 36 Met selects for their 2018 Water is Life Calendar, which is distributed throughout Southern California.

The posters created by the young artists in our boardroom on May 24th are on their way to Met for judging. If one is selected for Met’s calendar, we take the student and their parents to Los Angeles for Met’s ceremony.

Click through slideshow of winning posters.

Lake Jennings Up for a Golden Watchdog Award

Lake Jennings Up for a Golden Watchdog Award

Helix’s Lake Jennings is a nominee for a Golden Watchdog Award from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

The SDCTA’s 22nd Annual Goldens Awards Dinner is Thursday at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego. The Golden Watchdog and Golden Fleece Awards, according to the association, “give the public the opportunity to voice both admiration and criticism of government programs.” This Times of San Diego story will tell you which agencies are nominated this year and why.

Lake Jennings earned a nomination for its financial turnaround over the last four years.



Campground Net Revenues in 2012



Formed Lake Jennings Board Committee to focus on lake operations.


Completed Lake Jennings Improvement Study and hired new Reservoir Recreation Ranger to manage lake operations.


Approved development of a Lake Jennings brand, website and marketing plan.

Kayak Rentals

We added kayaks to our navy of rental boats.

Tipi Rentals

We added a new and exciting way to camp: in a tipi (every kid’s dream).


Over 400 kids and families came to Kids Day in 2016.

Best of Award

Best of East County voters chose Lake Jennings as Best Campground.


Likes on Facebook increased from 164 in 2014 to over 5,500 in 2017.


Instagram followers increased from zero in 2014 to over 3,500 in 2017.



Campground Net Revenues in 2016

If you haven’t been to Lake Jennings it’s time to visit or stay for a couple of days. It’s close enough to get there after work, but far enough from the city to see the night sky and count shooting stars. And we have kids’ activities, like Fishing University, all day long. Tipi rentals are $65 weeknights and $75 on weekends, and kayak rentals are $10 an hour and $30 for a partial-day.

For more information and to make an online reservation go to lakejennings.org.

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