Drought vs. El Nino: What’s the Score?

Drought vs. El Nino: What’s the Score?

The epic battle between El Nino and California’s drought is the climatic version of two heavyweight fighters going 15 rounds. El Nino landed punches in January, but the drought roared back in February, refusing to go down.  February brought exactly one day — just one day — of rain to San Diego County, and Accuweather is forecasting just three days of rain in March.

Take a Look at AccuWeather’s Forecast for March

At Helix, we’re hoping this forecast is completely wrong and that El Nino will bring above average rainfall to San Diego County in March, April and May. We want local rainfall to fill Lake Cuyamaca, Lake Jennings and the City of San Diego’s El Capitan Reservoir, where Helix stores up to 10,000 acre feet of water. We don’t have to buy this local water, which lowers our expenses and can have a positive effect on water rates.

It’s important to remember that February in California is often sunny, warm and beautiful. The San Jose Mercury News did the research and discovered that the 14 consecutive days without rain that we experienced this month is not a record. They found that the 1997-98 El Nino included a 17 day dry spell and the 1982-83 El Nino included a 22 day dry spell.

The larger issue, of course, is the depth and water content of the snowpack in the Sierra, which in normal years provides about one third of the water supply for California farms and cities. The snowpack in the Northern Sierra was 118 percent of average on February 1st. On February 26th, however, after three weeks of warm and dry weather, the snowpack is 94 percent of average. Note that climatologists said earlier this year that we need about 150 percent of the average Sierra snowpack on April 1 to make a dent in the drought.

Read the San Jose Mercury News Story

2016 Water-Wise Home Garden Tour

2016 Water-Wise Home Garden Tour

The Water Conservation Garden invites the public to its first annual Water-Wise Home Garden Tour on Saturday, March 26, 2016 from 9:00am to 3:00pm. The self-guided tour will highlight a variety of five beautiful gardens, located in El Cajon, La Mesa and Rancho San Diego, utilizing an array of color, variety, and low water usage. Homeowners will be on-hand to talk about their gardens and plants, pots and garden accessories will be on sale. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 the day of the event and attendance is limited.

Learn More About the Home Garden Tour

Voice of San Diego — Hasty Water Policies Don’t Mix Well With Long-Term Planning

Voice of San Diego — Hasty Water Policies Don’t Mix Well With Long-Term Planning

Mark Weston, former general manager at Helix Water District and the current chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors, explains in this Voice of San Diego article what San Diego County residents (and you) have done since 1992 to prepare for California’s current drought, including water conservation and the funding of new water resources like the Carlsbad Desalination Plant (photo).

Read the Voice of San Diego Article

It’s All About That Bass

It’s All About That Bass

Robert Daoud landed this 8 pound, 2 ounce Striped Bass (we like to call ’em Wipers!) this morning at Helix’s Lake Jennings. Daoud said there were two more swimming with this one, so come out this weekend, rent a boat and enjoy the weather.

Go to LakeJennings.org


Get Discounts on Low Water-Use Plants

Get Discounts on Low Water-Use Plants

As the days get longer, the San Diego County Water Authority and 11 member agencies once again are partnering with several local The Home Depot stores to offer discounts on water-efficient plants ideal for springtime planting. The San Diego County Garden Friendly Plant Fairs run from Feb. 20 to May 21 at Home Depot stores from Chula Vista to Oceanside.

Go to WaterSmartSD.org for Dates and Locations

The upcoming plant fairs at select The Home Depot locations will feature marked containers of water-wise plants such as lavender, bougainvillea, geranium and rosemary at discounted prices. Industry experts will provide information about water-efficient irrigation supplies and how to select and grow low-water-use plants. Certified nursery consultants from The Home Depot will host how-to workshops, and local retail water agency staff will be available to provide information about water conservation programs and services.

“This is the fifth year we have partnered with San Diego County Water Authority and member agencies to get information about drought tolerant plants to our customers throughout the San Diego area. With drought being such a prevalent issue in the western half of our nation, educating our associates and customers about water conservation is the right thing to do,” said Brian Parker, senior merchant of live goods for The Home Depot. “We look forward to hosting events from Feb. 20 to May 21 at our local stores with our fantastic partners.”

Water Authority member agencies sponsoring the spring plant fairs are Carlsbad Municipal Water District, City of Escondido, City of Oceanside, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, City of Poway, City of San Diego, San Dieguito Water District, Santa Fe Irrigation District, Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District and Valley Center Municipal Water District.

“This continued collaboration between the Water Authority, its member agencies and The Home Depot has proven a popular approach to helping San Diego area residents beautify their landscapes while simultaneously giving homeowners options that require less water,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “El Niño may bring an occasional wet winter, but it’s important to remember that San Diego County has a semi-arid climate. Transforming our landscapes with water-efficient plants is part of a long-term strategy to help us manage our precious water resources.”

Register today for a landscape design workshop

Register today for a landscape design workshop

Are you ready to transform your yard into a beautiful, water-saving landscape?  Join us for a WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop, a free, three-hour workshop and learn the basics of a landscape makeover.

A local landscape expert will cover turf removal, soil, plant selection, design, planning, irrigation and implementation – all the elements you need to convert your high-water-use turf to a beautiful, water-efficient landscape. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or plan to hire a contractor, you will receive an introduction to the knowledge, skills and resources needed to create a WaterSmart landscape.

Join us on either March 19 or April 9, 2016 from 9:00am to 12:00pm at Helix’s Nat L. Eggert Operation Center located at 1233 Vernon Way in El Cajon.

These workshops are offered in partnership with the San Diego County Water Authority. Seating is limited, so pre-registration is required. Don’t wait, because these events fill quickly.

March 19 Workshop – REGISTER TODAY!

April 9 Workshop – REGISTER TODAY!

El Nino Update: Where Did It Go?

El Nino Update: Where Did It Go?

Warm, dry weather to last at least 10 days was the headline in the February 7th edition of the San Diego Union Tribune. Accuweather and the other weather websites concurred. Expect a dry February and hope that El Nino returns in March and April to fill reservoirs.

January Storms
The storm system that hit San Diego County the first week of January increased local water supplies while causing significant flooding across the region. The storms added approximately 500 acre feet of new water to Lake Cuyamaca and Lake Jennings, Helix’s two local reservoirs. That is enough water to meet the average needs of 1,000 single-family homes for a year.

Helix has the capacity, however, to capture much more local water. Lake Cuyamaca was only eight percent full at the end of January and Helix has water rights to a portion of flows in the San Diego River and its tributaries, and storage rights for up to 10,000 acre feet of water in El Capitan Reservoir. Local water benefits customers because it reduces the amount of imported water Helix needs to purchase, which can reduce operating expenses.

Preparing for El Nino
Helix took a proactive approach to El Nino to ensure the protection and uninterrupted operation of our facilities, including 25 pump stations and 23 storage tanks along with our operations center, water treatment plant and administration office. This is critical infrastructure and each facility includes engineered stormwater conveyance systems to ensure proper flow of stormwater and avoid property damage.

Helix’s preventive maintenance programs include cleaning collection basins and drainage piping in its stormwater conveyance systems, roof inspections, tree maintenance and assessment and weed abatement. In anticipation of El Nino, the district also stockpiled and placed sandbags, silt fencing and straw wattles as needed to prevent flooding and erosion.

Preparing Your Own Property
Helix customers may want to take advantage of this break in the weather to get free sandbags and place them where needed to keep water away from doorways, prevent erosion and keep mulch from floating away.

More Information
Go to www.readysandiego.org/el-nino/

Watch the Video
How to fill and place sandbags

Get Free Sandbags
We recommend calling first to confirm availability.

Lemon Grove
7853 Central Avenue
24 hours/day, 7 days/week
City residents only

Spring Valley
Go to Rancho San Diego
2249 Jamacha Road
El Cajon, CA 92019

La Mesa
8152 Commercial Street
24 hours/day, 7 days/week
City residents only

El Cajon
1050 Vernon Way
Mon-Fri, 6:00am-3:00pm
City residents only

9534 Via Zapador
Mon-Thu, 8:00am-4:00pm
Fri., 8:00am-1:00pm