Reserve your seats for next landscape workshop

Since every seat was reserved for our landscape design workshops in September and October, we are going to have another one on Saturday, January 21st at Helix’s Nat L. Eggert Operations Center in El Cajon.  The WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop is a free, 3-hour workshop that will show you how to have a beautiful landscape using a fraction of the water that a traditional landscape needs. The workshop is taught by one of our local landscape experts and brought to you by Helix and the San Diego County Water Authority.

You will learn

  • How to convert your turf area to water efficient landscape
  • How to select plants that thrive in our Mediterranean climate
  • How to analyze your yard, identify your soil type, remove turf and irrigate efficiently
  • How to create a professional landscape with planting and irrigation designs ready for installation

We encourage you to reserve your seats now as seating is limited and these workshops fill up fast. It’s easy to do. The reservation form is on the workshop’s webpage. Click on the link below to go there.

Reserve your seats for the January 21st workshop

5 reasons to spend a weekend at Lake Jennings

5 reasons to spend a weekend at Lake Jennings

Helix’s campground at Lake Jennings has been sold out every weekend since March — and now we have tipis and kayaks!  Here are five good reasons to go camping and see for yourself what the buzz is about.

1. Lake Jennings is close enough to get there after work, but far enough from the city to see the night sky and count shooting stars.

2. Your kids will love camping in a tipi. Our new tipis rent for $65/night Sunday-Thursday, and $75/night on Friday, Saturday and holidays.

3. Kayaking is relaxation and exercise at the same time, and our new kayaks have a built-in holder for your fishing pole. They rent for $10 an hour or $30 for a partial day, and military veterans get 20% off.

4. Kid’s activities every Saturday include Fishing University, Craft Time and S’mores.

5. Lake Jennings is within 30 minutes of over 600 rock climbing routes, 14 mountain biking trails and 13 hiking trails. Use the lake as base camp and play all weekend.

Photo shows man kayaking on Lake Jennings, with his fishing poles in the kayak's rod holders.
Photo shows one of the five new tipis at the Lake Jennings campground.
Photo shows a camper holding a s'more with a campfire in the background.
Photo shows man kayaking on Lake Jennings, with his fishing poles in the kayak's rod holders.

Helix’s school programs: teaching kids about water

Helix’s school programs: teaching kids about water

It’s hard to say which one is more fun: a school assembly with Ms. Smarty Plants from The Water Conservation Garden, which is equal parts jokes and singing along, or a tour of Helix’s R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant, which is an opportunity to see chemistry, engineering and computer technology at work.

Last year, Helix taught 7,361 local elementary and middle school students where their water comes from, how we make it safe to drink, and why water conservation matters.

This year, we’ll do it again. Over 500 fifth graders already toured Helix’s treatment plant this fall, and Ms. Smarty Plants taught 700 kindergarten through sixth grade students about water conservation at EJE Academies Charter School in El Cajon in October.

Teach kids to save water when they are young and two things happen. They go home and teach their parents what they learned, and they become adults who care about California’s water resources.

“We also have students who don’t trust tap water, and families spending too much on bottled water, because the tap water where they used to live wasn’t safe or didn’t taste good,” said Carlos Lugo, Helix’s General Manager.

“If we can earn these students’ trust by teaching them about the treatment process and letting them drink the water at the end of the process, that’s huge.”

On a tour of Helix’s treatment plant, students see the control room, chemistry lab, mixing and sedimentation basins, ozonation facility and filter basins. They learn how the treatment process removes non-living things from the water first, like dirt, and how ozone removes living things, like bacteria.

The plant tours are designed for fifth grade students, because learning about water quality is part of the State of California’s fifth grade science curriculum. Each year, a new generation of fifth graders takes the tour.

Francine Thompson, who retired from teaching in 2007 and works for Helix part-time, promotes, coordinates and leads the tours. When two classrooms take the tour, Thompson takes one and Brenda Randall, a retired San Diego County Sheriff Deputy, takes the other.

Helix’s school program is only available to schools located within Helix’s service area, which includes the cities of La Mesa, Lemon Grove and El Cajon, Spring Valley and unincorporated areas of the county. Our program also includes contests – a poster contest for grades K-6, a video contest for grades 6-12 and a photo contest for grades 9-12 – and two college scholarship endowments and teacher mini-grants.

Interested teachers should go to for more information. To reserve a treatment plant tour date, contact Francine Thompson at 619-667-6264 or


Discounted rain barrels now available

Discounted rain barrels now available

Save water this winter by installing a rain barrel – and save money by taking advantage of discounts and rebates that reduce the final cost of each rain barrel to $15 before tax.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies, including Helix, have partnered with the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation to offer 50-gallon rain barrels for $90 each. The rain barrels can be purchased through the Solana Center and are normally $149.

Once purchased, residents can apply for the $75 rain barrel rebate (maximum two rebates per address) available through the SoCal WaterSmart regional rebate program by December 31. The rebate will be reduced to $35 effective January 1, 2017.

Residents may pick up their rain barrels at one of four designated pick-up locations throughout the county, including the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon on December 3 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Residents must pre-order their rain barrels and choose their pick-up location before November 27. No sales will be made the day of the event.

To pre-order your discounted rain barrels, visit Rebate applications are available online at More details about the partnership can be found in the San Diego County Water Authority’s news release.

Discounted rain barrels and rebates are limited and are not guaranteed.

Helix’s new Video Tips Series for homeowners

Helix’s new Video Tips Series for homeowners

“My water usage has really increased since my last bill and I am not sure why or what to do. Can you help?” This is a common question from our customers who are looking to reduce their water use.   And the answer is, yes, we can help!

Today the Helix Water District released its first video in its newly launched Video Tips Series.  This video focuses on what to expect when a Helix customer signs up for a free Home Water Use Evaluation.  The four minute clip walks you through the steps that Helix water conservation staff will take when they visit your home. They start with reading your meter and end with providing you with a written report of steps, tailored to your home, that you can take to reduce your water usage – both indoor and out!

The Video Tips Series will focus on things that you can do to make water conservation a California way of life.  Next up in our series is a video on how to read your meter on your own and what to look for when checking for leaks.

Interested in making a reservation for a free water use evaluation for your home? Visit us at, email us at or call 619-466-0585 to schedule an appointment.

Design ideas for a water efficient landscape

Design ideas for a water efficient landscape

It’s November, which means it’s time to finish designing and start planting your water efficient landscape.

Why now? Because new plants need all of the water that a lawn needs until their roots establish, and that can take six months. Plant now and winter rainstorms will provide a lot of that water.  If you’re still working on your design, here is some design inspiration from Need more inspiration, and some information? Go to our landscape design webpage where you will find links to websites, videos and plans.