Safety is our highest priority

Safety is our highest priority

Last week, Helix’s confined space rescue team held their quarterly safety training in Lakeside in conjunction with Heartland Fire’s Rescue Engine 12 crew from La Mesa.

Confined spaces are areas large enough for employees to enter and perform work, are not intended for continued occupancy, and have restricted entry and exit points.

Helix has a variety of confined spaces including pipelines, water storage tanks and underground vaults. District staff regularly enters these spaces for inspections and maintenance to ensure the integrity of our infrastructure. There are 37 miles of pipe 30-inches and larger in diameter, a portion of which is inspected from the inside annually.

To ensure workers stay safe, Helix follows Cal/OSHA safety protocols that include permit issuance, continuous air monitoring, ventilation, the use of harnesses and retrieval systems, emergency whistles and stand-by rescue personnel on site. \

The rescue personnel are members of the district’s confined space rescue team. The team is made up of nine volunteer employees who receive no extra compensation for these duties. Although OSHA requires annual drills, Helix’s team conducts quarterly drills and training to ensure everyone is prepared in case an emergency arises during confined space work.

Captain Tom Brown, firefighter/paramedic Kyle Tasco and engineer Scott Norris, Heartland Fire’s Rescue Engine 12 crew from La Mesa, practice maneuvering themselves and their rescue equipment through the tight confines of a 36-inch pipe.

Firefighters pause for a photo inside a Helix water main.

Moving water ahead of expected storms

Moving water ahead of expected storms

The San Diego County Water Authority announced Tuesday that it transferred water out of Lake Hodges for the first time to create room to capture rain and runoff from storms expected to move into the region this week. The Water Authority’s Emergency Storage Project allows the movement of water from Lake Hodges (above right) into Olivenhain Reservoir ( above left), and to San Vicente Reservoir in East County.

Read the 10News story

Regulation vs. Cooperation

Regulation vs. Cooperation

Photo: The Toulumne River flooding its banks in February.

Farmers, cities, water districts and environmental advocacy groups throughout California are waiting for Governor Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board to announce the end of the drought and the start of new water use regulations.

At stake are reduced water supplies if the state board mandates higher river flows to support spawning salmon and the wetlands that benefit juvenile salmon on their downstream migration to the ocean. And cities and water districts are concerned just how stringent the state board’s upcoming water conservation regulations — “Water Conservation as a Way of Life in California” — will be.

What’s interesting, however, are the farmers, cities, water districts and environmental advocacy groups that aren’t waiting for the state board. They are collaborating — bringing scientific expertise and research capabilities together with local knowledge — to develop solutions at the watershed level. They are also bringing into question whether regulation or cooperation is the most effective approach to California’s water issues.

San Francisco and Central Valley farmers
The city of San Francisco and Central Valley farmers have formed an unusual alliance and are proposing their own plan to restore the salmon population and wetlands on the Toulumne River.

Read the story in the San Francisco Chronicle

Trout Unlimited and Sonoma Valley landowners
In the Sonoma Valley, Trout Unlimited and the Sonoma Ecology Center are working with landowners to increase increase flow in Sonoma Creek for Chinook Salmon and Steelhead.

Read the story in the Sonoma Valley Sun

Environmental Defense Fund and Central Valley farmers
And the Environmental Defense Fund is collaborating with Central Valley farmers on a new program to develop water markets that pay farmers for allocating land and water to habitat restoration projects benefiting salmon and river ecosystems.

Read the story in Water Deeply

Enter the Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest

Enter the Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest

Do you love the great outdoors? Do you have a digital SLR or cellphone camera?  If so, come out and compete in this year’s Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest.

Shooting window is from March to the end of May and contest participants can get a free day pass to explore the reservoir to seek, find and capture eye-catching images.

Competition sponsor Helix Water District makes 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes available in each of two divisions, adult and youth.

This is a purely digital competition with a requirement for entries (no more than three per photographer) to be emailed to the competition coordinator by midnight Wednesday, May 31.

The complete set of rules and entry and model release forms can be downloaded from

Last year’s competition garnered 52 entries from 21 photographers.  In addition to the top prizes, judges awarded seven honorable mentions.  Winning pictures from the 2016 contest were posted to the Lake Jennings Facebook page (

Previously known as the Lake Jennings Month-of-March Photo Contest, the competition was renamed and its shooting timeframe expanded to include March, April and May to allow shutterbugs a greater amount of time to capture imagery.

State’s “Sampling for Lead in Schools Program” is underway

State’s “Sampling for Lead in Schools Program” is underway

La Mesa Spring Valley School District, the subject of a channel 7 news story on February 28th, is collecting water samples to determine if the plumbing or water fixtures in their schools expose students to lead. The school district’s decision to provide bottled water to students is not due to the quality of water provided by Helix Water District.

There is no lead pipe in Helix’s water distribution system, including water mains and service lines to homes and schools, and the district is in full compliance with state and federal lead and copper testing requirements.

In mid-January, the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water directed all water systems in the state to assist the K-12 schools they serve in determining if a school’s plumbing or water fixtures expose students to lead. The state is focused on schools because older school buildings throughout the state were built before current lead regulations were in place.

The purpose of the state’s directive is to help schools determine if their plumbing or water fixtures are a potential source of lead exposure for students and staff.  Schools can then remove or replace plumbing as needed.

Helix sent letters to all K-12 schools in our service area on January 20, 2017 to advise schools of the program and provide a point of contact should they decide to request sampling assistance from the district.  School participation in the water sampling program is voluntary, and schools must request assistance in writing.

Additional information regarding Helix Water District’s compliance with state and federal lead and copper testing, and all other water quality regulations, can be found in our annual Water Quality Report. Information on the testing for lead in schools program can be found on the State Water Resources Control Board’s website.

Tour our Water Treatment Plant

Tour our Water Treatment Plant

Want to see Helix’s water treatment process — how we produce the safe, high quality drinking water we deliver to your home? Reserve your spot on a tour of the R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 8:30am.

You’ll see each step of the treatment process, from the control room to the chemistry lab to the ozonation facility. The tour is the next session of Helix Water Talks, our new series tours and discussions to give customers an inside look at how we provide a safe and reliable water supply – from the science and engineering to the policies and operations.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

9550 Lake Jennings Park Road in Lakeside Map

Have a cup of coffee and meet the staff.

Tour the plant. Wear comfortable shoes!

Have more questions? Let’s discuss them.

Reserve up to two spots on the tour at
Scroll down to Bookings and complete the reservation form.