Engineering & Construction

Helix’s systems must be maintained in good working condition to meet today’s service requirements and expanded in anticipation of tomorrow’s demands. If we fail to do this, reliability suffers and system-wide costs increase. The Engineering Department provides the following services:

Capital Improvements
Planning and Design
Surveying and Right-of-Way
Environmental Analysis

Contracts Administration
Construction Management

Construction Inspection
Cathodic Protection

Private Development
Plans Review

Underground Facility Location

How Do We Compare?

The replacement of aging infrastructure is an increasingly urgent issue throughout the U.S. The key question is whether water utilities are keeping up. Two organizations have analyzed the data for water utilities in California, and their assessments provide helpful context for reviewing Helix’s plan for the replacement of aging infrastructure — our Capital Improvement Program (CIP).

2013 Report Card
American Society of Civil Engineers

Analyzes the condition of all U.S. infrastructure, from water to transportation

Paying for Water in California
Public Policy Institute of California

Concludes that the state’s water utilities are keeping pace with infrastructure replacement

CIP Master Plan
Helix Water District

Shows completed projects, current programs and the district’s future capital needs

How We Lower Construction Costs

Water Agencies’ Standards provide participating water agencies with infrastructure design guidelines, standard specifications, standard drawings and approved materials. Standardization is efficient for water agency engineers and efficient for parts suppliers who can maintain smaller inventories and better meet the needs of a project. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that construction contractors and their workers develop expertise with the infrastructure of participating agencies more quickly, do higher quality work and make fewer mistakes. Helix’s capital projects comply with Water Agencies’ Standards in order to experience these benefits.

Water Agencies’ Standards


Helix Water District
Lakeside Water District
Otay Water District
Padre Dam Municipal Water District
Ramona Municipal Water District
Santa Fe Irrigation District
City of Encinitas
Sweetwater Authority

Capital Improvement Program

The goal of Helix’s capital improvement program (CIP) is to maintain, upgrade and replace the district’s infrastructure at a rate that minimizes unplanned service interruptions and can be funded through water rates.

For FY 2015-16 Project Details
Go to page 89 of the Final Budget – Fiscal year 2015-16

Water Treatment Plant

Many of the non-structural components in use at the plant were installed in 1965 and are now 50 years old. When the cost of maintaining and refurbishing older components increases, complete replacement is warranted.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects
Generator Enclosure Improvements at Los Coches Pump Station
Screw Pump Coating Improvements
Motor Control Center
Filter Effluent Valve Actuators
Helix 3 Tank Power Pole
Masts at South Rim, Helix and Helix 1B pump stations

Pump Stations

Helix operates 25 pump stations that house 79 pumps with a total capacity of 176,600 gallons per minute and a combined maximum output of 9,500 horsepower. The median service age of our pumping stations is 33 years. Pumping units, electrical components, motor control centers, pressure reduction valves, backup systems and buildings are maintained until replacement is warranted.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects
Fletcher Hills 2 Pump Station design and construction
Vista Pump Station design and construction

Storage Tanks

Helix operates 24 water storage tanks ranging from 73,000 gallons to 5.3 million gallons. The median service age of our tanks is 45 years. Tanks are monitored and maintained for structural integrity, safety, condition of the coatings and compliance with California Department of Drinking Water requirements.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects
South Rim Tank Rehabilitation planning and design

Cast-Iron Pipe Replacement

An estimated 187 miles of cast-iron pipe was installed by Helix Water District between 1926 and 1959. In 2005, the Board approved a plan to replace the remaining 67 miles of cast-iron pipe by 2019. At the end of 2014, 33 miles remains.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects
Royal, Melrose and Vista Del Cajon streets construction
Merritt, Windridge, Grove streets construction
Broadway, Golden and Mt. Vernon streets design
Greenfield, Oro, Second streets design
S. Tropico, Tangor, Crest, Lamar, Rogers streets design
Magnolia, Main, Alley, Cypress, El Monte, Lincoln, Denstedt, Murray, Grape streets design
Jamacha, Vista del Valle, Flume streets design
La Mesa (miscellaneous)

Steel Pipe Replacement

Steel was and is the predominant pipe material for large diameter water transmission pipelines. However, 4.7 miles of steel pipe installed in Helix’s system in the 1920s was not coated with cement mortar to protect against corrosion. As of 2015, 4.14 miles need to be replaced.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects
Valencia and Bancroft streets design
Grossmont, Wilson, Palm, Washington, streets construction

Small Valve Replacement

Helix operates and maintains over 16,000, 4-14 inch valves within the water distribution system, located near the junction of connecting pipelines, near fire hydrants and at 400 foot intervals along isolated stretches of pipe. These valves are critical for establishing proper water pressure and for routing water flow around segments needing maintenance or emergency repair. Available funding allows for the replacement of small valves on a 60-75 year cycle.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects
Replacement of approximately 160 small valves

Large Valve Replacement

Helix operates and maintains 421 valves sized 16 inches and larger on main water transmission pipelines. They are used to isolate sections of pipe for maintenance and to reroute water flow within the distribution system. There are currently 73 high-priority valves scheduled for replacement by 2024.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects

Emergency Interconnects

The District maintains interconnecting pipelines between pressure zones that are normally isolated and with neighboring water districts. In both cases, the interconnects provide a back-up water source when a supply line or facility is unexpectedly out of service. Bi-directional interconnects allow water to flow to Helix or the neighboring agency, and in these cases costs are evenly split between the agencies.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects
Emergency Interconnection (Otay WD) Upgrade construction
Emergency Interconnection (Otay WD) Upgrade construction

Special Projects

Special projects are either not budgeted in other sections or unforeseen.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects

Equipment and Vehicles

Helix operates and maintains a fleet of 77 vehicles and 67 pieces of equipment. Gasoline vehicles are evaluated for replacement at 100,000 miles and diesel vehicles are evaluated at 200,000 miles. Vehicles are maintained through a service agreement with El Cajon Ford.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Replacements
7 pickup trucks
1 mini-SUV

Solar Energy

The Nat L. Eggert Operations Center Solar Energy Project was completed in 2011 and provides 50 percent of the energy used by the facility. Borrego Solar/Sun Edison funded construction in exchange for a 20 year power purchase agreement.

Monitor the Energy Production of Helix’s System

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects

HP Replacement

The highly customized software application (HP) Helix uses to support customer service, finance, operations and human resources is 35 years old and uses an antiquated programming language that is no longer viable. Helix is replacing the system with a new suite of integrated software applications for core functions and document management.

Fiscal Year 2015-16 Projects
HP Replacement Project
IS Firewall Software Replacement
Data Management System for treatment plant

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