Kids Day at Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings is hosting its annual Kid’s Day on Saturday, January 30, 2016 from 6:00am to 2:00pm. Kids under 10 years of age will fish for FREE and the kids pond will be fully stocked. (Note that there is a one fish per child limit in the kids pond)

Fishing should be fast and furious in the lake, as well, as 3,500 pounds of trout will be stocked in the two weeks leading up to Kid’s Day! Make a weekend of it, but act fast, as our rental boats and campsites book fast.

The lake will be CLOSED in preparation for the event on Friday, January 29th. Shoreline fishing below the campground will be available to registered campers only on the 29th.

For more information go to http://lakejennings.org/
For campground reservations go to http://camping.lakejennings.org/

Happy New Year from Helix!

The board, management and staff of Helix Water District wish everyone in our service area a safe and prosperous new year. Finding just the right words to convey our feelings was difficult, but an end-of-year piece by longtime columnist Ann Landers struck us as appropriate:

Let this coming year be better than all the others, Vow to do some of the things you have always wanted to do but could not find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you do not think you can keep. Walk tall, and smile more. You will look 10 years younger. Do not be afraid to say, I love you. Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.

Good advice, but not the kind a water district usually gives. So, here’s some more advice: make a new year’s resolution to be water efficient. Save some time, water and money in 2016.

Outdoor water use accounts for over 50 percent of the average single family home’s total water use.  All of that water is often used to grow plants that aren’t right for the local climate, which not only leads to extra water use but also extra maintenance and green waste from mowing and pruning.  In 2016, resolve to make a change!

Resolution #1: Visit your sprinklers more often

Your sprinklers work hard and need regular tune-ups; spend a few minutes each month checking your system.  Turn it on and check for overspray and runoff.  Adjust sprinkler heads so that they don’t overspray the sidewalk, driveway, or street.  Check for leaks and replace any broken sprinkler nozzles.  If you have runoff, water is being applied faster than the soil can absorb it.  Try shorter or multiple run times reduce runoff by allowing water to soak into the soil.

Resolution #2: Make your soil healthy

Like people, plants thrive when they are healthy and well nourished.  As an added bonus, they use less water as well.  To create healthy soil, add a 2 to 3 inch layer of organic mulch in your landscape.  Mulch not only reduces evaporation and retains moisture in the soil, but also helps moderate temperature by keeping soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  Organic mulch such as bark decomposes, enriching the soil with additional nutrients and creating better soil quality for your plants.  It also discourages weeds, reducing your maintenance.

Resolution #3: Upgrade your landscape

Do you have grass that is struggling due to the drought water restrictions?  If needed, keep a small area for kids and pets and replace the rest with California-friendly landscaping.  Water-wise plants and trees use up to 70 percent less water than thirsty, cool-season grass.  Replace inefficient overhead sprinklers with high-efficiency rotating nozzles or drip irrigation.  You may find yourself spending more time outdoors, enjoying the colors, fragrances, and wildlife that often come with a beautiful WaterSmart landscape.

Let’s all resolve to make 2016 better, happier, and more water-wise!

Take a Gardening Class in January

If you haven’t taken a gardening class at The Water Conservation Garden, add it to your New Year’s Resolutions. Come early, grab a coffee on the way, and stroll The Garden’s five acres of Mediterranean and California native plants, trees and exhibits. Most classes start at 10:00am and run until noon and are taught by landscape designers, master gardeners and other local experts. You’ll meet kindred spirits, discuss questions and ideas and maybe end up sharing emails and plant cuttings after class.

In January, The Water Conservation Garden is hosting a class every weekend. Go to the Classes & Events page on our website for details.

January 9th
Rainwater Harvesting and Greywater

January 16th
Tree Trimming, Pruning and Care

January 23rd
Hillside Gardening

January 23rd and 30th
Training to Become a Garden Docent

January 30th
Compost Workshop with Solana Center

January 31st
Qigong (Chi Gong) in The Garden

 

Newsweek – California Drought Could Spell Death for 58 Million Trees

Newsweek – California Drought Could Spell Death for 58 Million Trees

In April 2015, the U.S. Forest Service reported 12.5 million trees lost to drought in California’s national forests. A new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences puts the number of dead and dying trees in California’s forests at 58 million, and the number of drought-stressed trees at 888 million. Losing this amount of forest could be devastating to California’s watersheds and water supply. (Photo from Fresno Bee)

Read the Story

Happy Holidays from Helix!

As 2015 draws to a close, I find myself thinking about the past year, and looking forward to the next. I enjoy the holidays, the time with friends and loved ones, and celebrating and reflecting on our many blessings. One of the real joys this time of year is saying Thank You to the residents and communities that Helix serves. All of us at Helix send you our warmest wishes for the holidays and for peace and happiness throughout the new year.

I also want to thank Helix employees, who give their very best, every day, to assure that our customers have a safe and reliable water supply. While it has been a challenging year due to drought and state mandates, I am pleased to report that we made tremendous strides in providing the exceptional service that our customers deserve and expect:

  • Our new online customer account management system provides 24/7 convenience, more payment options and lower transaction fees.

  • Our new website works across computers, tablets and smartphones, is easy to navigate, and is a place to learn more about the district, request services and explore how water is managed in California and the Southwest.

  • Our customers received rebates for over 7,400 water efficient irrigation components, appliances and plumbing fixtures, and over 261,000 square feet of turf removal, helping to achieve the state mandate of reducing water use by 20%.

  • We visited 143 residential and business customers, surveyed their water use, checked for leaks and recommended water saving strategies.

  • We marked the 50th anniversary of Helix’s R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant and 50 consecutive years of water treatment without a water quality violation.

Helix will continue to improve and evolve – that is our commitment to the communities we serve — and I am excited about what lies ahead in 2016 and beyond.

Thank you and happy holidays!

Carlos Lugo
General Manager

Focus on winning! Shoot now for Helix’s 14th annual high school photo contest

Focus on winning! Shoot now for Helix’s 14th annual high school photo contest

It’s that time of year again when Helix Water District reminds local high school photography teachers to encourage their students to shoot and enter their best pictures in the agency’s annual “water colors” photo contest.

Deadline for entries is March 11 and cash prizes of $200, $100 and $50 will be awarded, respectively, for first, second and third places in two categories: color and black & white. Judges also may select an image as “best-in-show,” which would be awarded $250.  Additionally, the district may submit winning entries into a regional competition with student work in neighboring water agencies, so a further award and prize may be possible.

Helix has sponsored this competition for the last 13 years, rewarding eye-catching photography produced by eligible students living within the district’s service area.

“The trend from the beginning has been a continual increase in the number and quality of entries,” said contest coordinator Ted Salois, senior public affairs representative at Helix. “The judges are more amazed each year at the high-caliber images submitted by the area’s youth.  It seems certain that some of these kids will continue studying visual media and pursue careers in the profession.”

The district created the competition to increase awareness about issues surrounding water in Southern California while giving local students an opportunity to have their work published in Helix’s annual reports, water quality pamphlets, brochures, posters and other communications materials.

Students who wish to participate should pay close attention to submission requirements. The district receives hundreds of images, so entries missing needed information or required signatures will get disqualified before judging takes place. The major criteria for entries are listed below.

  • “Water” is the theme of the contest, but it may be expressed loosely, figuratively, abstractly.
  • Only students who live in the Helix Water District service area are eligible to compete.
  • Images must have been made in San Diego County after Dec. 31, 2014.
  • Images with any color must be entered into the color category.
  • A maximum of three entries may be entered per photographer.
  • Each photo must be mounted on a 16” x 20” board.
  • Entries must be received at the district’s La Mesa headquarters by March 11, 2016.
  • Each entry must include a title and caption.
  • Offensive or obviously inappropriate imagery will be removed from the competition.
  • A signed image & likeness release must be included for each identifiable person in photos.
  • Photographer or subjects under 18 must have parent or guardian signature on related forms.
  • All entries become the sole property of Helix Water District and will not be returned.

Students are encouraged to collaborate with the art/photography teacher(s) at their high school. Click on the link below for an entry and image release form for this year’s contest.

Entry Form & Image Release 2015-2016

If you have a question not covered by the information above, contact contest coordinator Ted Salois at (619) 667-6257 or ted.salois@helixwater.org.

 

Enter the 2016 California Friendly Landscape Contest

Enter the 2016 California Friendly Landscape Contest

If your response to a changing climate and drought was to install a water-efficient landscape and drip irrigation then you may be poised to win a $250 Home Depot gift certificate this April.

That’s the prize for winning Helix Water District’s 2016 California Friendly Landscape Contest, along with a feature story on Helix’s website and in our newsletter.

Landscapes entered in the contest are judged on their overall attractiveness, plant selection, design, maintenance and the efficiency of the irrigation system. Entrants provide photos, a plant list, a water bill and a brief story explaining why they installed their landscape and the benefits it provides.

Learn more about the judging criteria and participating agencies, and download an entry form at www.landscapecontest.com.

Photo: Anona Bolieu was the winner of Helix’s 2015 California Friendly Landscape Contest.

2016 California Friendly Landscape Contest Flyer

Over 100 Toys!

Over 100 Toys!

December 16th — Helix staff are pleased to report that they — and some of our customers — donated 113 new toys to the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program, and delivered them today to the toy-drive’s headquarters in Miramar.

Carlos Lugo, Helix’s General Manager noted, “This was done, of course, on each employee’s own time and with their own money and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Every child should have a toy to unwrap on Christmas,”

Photo: Chris Timmer, Helix’s water conservation representative, inventories the toys donated by Helix staff.

 

New Rates in Effect January 1, 2016

In October the district’s board of directors approved rate increases that will appear on customer bills beginning January 1, 2016. The average district customer will see an increase of approximately $6 per month as a result. The rate increase was primarily driven by the impacts of the drought and the rising cost of imported water. Of note, these rates already cover the costs associated with the Carlsbad desalination plant, which began commercial operation this week. See the bill insert below for more information or estimate your bill.

Bill Insert-Jan I 2016 Rates

Water Savings Update for November

Helix Water District customers continued their conservation efforts in November, reducing their water use by 10 percent compared to November 2013. 

Last June, California called for mandatory water use reductions statewide and assigned a 20 percent reduction in water use for the district from June 2015 through February 2016, when compared to the same months in 2013. 

Since June, district customers have reduced their water use by 25 percent when compared to the 2013 baseline period, exceeding the district’s cumulative target of 20 percent under California’s emergency drought regulations.

During the winter months it is more challenging to reduce water use on a month-by-month basis as we irrigate less and there is less discretionary water use to cut.  Extra water savings by customers during the summer months should help carry the district through the winter months, enabling the district to achieve its cumulative 20 percent target by the end of February. 

While the district is on track to meet the state’s targets, it’s important that customers continue to look for ways to save water indoors and out..

 

Helix lobbying to make water conservation rebates tax-exempt

Water conservation rebates are taxable? It turns out that the answer is yes, but only if you receive $600 or more in rebates in a single year.

If you didn’t know about this you’re not alone. Few rebates ever surpass the $600 threshold. But this year — the fourth consecutive year of extreme, statewide drought — Metropolitan Water District of Southern California increased their turf removal rebate to $2 per square foot. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, many homeowners were surprised to learn that they owe taxes on the big rebates they received.

While the State of California exempted turf removal rebates from reportable income, the IRS didn’t. This November, the Alliance for Water Efficiency reported that this issue was, “included in the U.S. Treasury Department’s greenbook, an annual report on tax policy changes the administration would like Congress to enact.”

On December 3rd, the Alliance for Water Efficiency called on water agencies to email the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, and Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi.

Read Helix’s Letter to Congressional Leaders.

On December 11th, the Alliance for Water Efficiency reports, a letter signed by 32 members of Congress requesting a federal exemption for water conservation rebates from taxable income was sent to the IRS and the Department of the Treasury.