High School Video Contest Offering $1,500 First Prize

High School Video Contest Offering $1,500 First Prize

Create a one to two minute video answering the question, “What’s so special about special districts?” and you could win the 2019 High School Student Video Contest sponsored by the San Diego Chapter of the California Special Districts Association (CSDA).

The objective of the contest is for high school students to create four public service announcements for CSDA that raise awareness about special districts and the services they provide in San Diego County. Do the whole project — shooting and editing — on your smartphone. Or use a drone! And take advantage of all the free tutorials and tips on video production on the web.

The best place to begin learning about California’s special districts and what they do (Helix is a special district!) is the CSDA San Diego Chapter website.  And, if you’re wondering whether you should enter, take note — the winner of last year’s San Diego County contest, Heath Dunbar of La Costa Canyon High School, went on to win the statewide contest!



1st Place


2nd Place


3rd Place


To each winner’s school


Entries are due by April 1, 2018 and you must attend a high school in San Diego County to enter. Winners are announced in May.


2019 San Diego Chapter CSDA Video Contest Flyer


Photo by Min An from Pexels

2019 Trends in Garden Design

2019 Trends in Garden Design

Which would you rather spend your weekends on:

A yard that doesn’t need much water?
A water efficient landscape?
A wonderful garden?

Water utilities prefer the term water efficient landscaping. But, honestly, the idea of a wonderful garden is far more intriguing. After all:

Yardwork is a chore — “work” is half the word. 
Landscaping is maintenance — so much work, so often, that we usually outsource it.
Gardening is a passion — people love their gardens.

It’s not hard to understand why people love their gardens — they are a creative endeavor full of possibilities. While a water efficient landscape saves water, a wonderful garden immerses us in color, feeds us, creates a home for birds and butterflies, gives us a place to enjoy dinner with friends under the stars, provides cool shade on a hot day and quiet sanctuary after work — and saves water, too.

If the idea of turning your yard or landscape into a wonderful garden sparks your imagination, then you’ll like 2019 Trends in Garden Design in Garden Design Magazine. The article reports on 10 trends shaping the world’s wonderful gardens, from “Keeping it Low Maintenance” to “Creating a Staycation Spot”, and provides a list of ideas for incorporating each of the trends in your own wonderful garden.

Read 2019 Trends in Garden Design in Garden Design Magazine

And, don’t forget our WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop is coming up on Saturday, February 9 at 9:00 a.m.  If you’re raring to jump into your new gardening hobby, this workshop is a great place to begin. Reserve your seats!

Reserve Your Seats for Events at Helix and The Water Conservation Garden

Reserve Your Seats for Events at Helix and The Water Conservation Garden



The Lore of the Kumeyaay
Native Americans have inhabited San Diego County for over 10,000 years. Find out how they lived, their history, and spirituality, with long time student of Kumeyaay culture, Jan Tubiolo.

January 26 @ 10:30 a.m.
The Water Conservation Garden

Learn More and Register



Helix Water Talks: Helix Then and Now
Tour our 3-floor collection of historic photography and learn about the history of east county, Helix and our water supply, and what has changed over the years.

February 2 @ 8:30 a.m.
Helix Administration Office in La Mesa

Learn More and Register



WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop
This free, 3-hour workshop will show you how to have a beautiful landscape that needs a fraction of the water, and a fraction of the maintenance, that a traditional landscape needs. 

February 9 @ 9:00 a.m.
Helix Operations Center in El Cajon

Learn More and Register

Monday is Martin Luther King Day

Monday is Martin Luther King Day

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,

“What are you doing for others?'”

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At Helix Water District, we are committed to honoring Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, the standard he set and the challenges that remain.

Are you looking for a way to volunteer and make a difference?
Go to http://www.nationalservice.gov

Women’s future careers in water topic of Cuyamaca event

Women’s future careers in water topic of Cuyamaca event

Photo (San Diego Union Tribune) — The new Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College includes an above-ground water distribution system that students can operate and repair, and a water quality laboratory. The center is focused on “learning by doing” to improve students’ job-readiness.

Mount Helix resident Kathleen Coates Hedberg is a registered civil engineer, a grade 4 water treatment operator and cross connection specialist.

On the board of directors of the Helix Water District and San Diego County Water Authority, Hedberg knows what it is like to be in a male-dominated field.

“There’s only six of us on the county water board out of about 36 members,” Hedberg said.

She’d like to see a shift in those numbers, and is an advocate for women seeking — and succeeding — in careers in the water and wastewater industries.

Hedberg said this month’s second annual Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies “Women in Water – Exploring Career Pathways” symposium will provide a good opportunity to turn the tide.

Continue Reading the San Diego Union Tribune Story

The 3 Things Helix Said to Cleantech San Diego

The 3 Things Helix Said to Cleantech San Diego

Cleantech San Diego is a nonprofit organization that fosters collaboration between companies, government agencies and universities in the San Diego region to encourage investment in the technologies needed to make cities sustainable.

The nonprofit’s 100-plus members include the region’s universities, many of its cities and the likes of Qualcomm and Cisco, Ernst & Young and the Toronto Stock Exchange, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and venture capital firms, and a number of technology and energy startups.

Two water utilities are also members — Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the largest water utility in the United States, and Helix Water District. I asked Helix Facilities Manager Joe Garuba, who helps support sustainability initiatives within the district, to explain.

Joe, why did Helix join Cleantech?

Our board asked us to join over the summer and we did. Cleantech’s meetings are a good place for conversations on how to leverage advancing technologies to achieve sustainability in the region. They are the crossroads of the private sector, education, utilities and government, and they have established themselves across the region.

You and Helix Director of Operations Kevin Miller presented recently at Cleantech’s board of directors meeting. Why?

They asked us to present because we are at the front of the curve on water agency sustainability. We can also serve as a technical resource for the other members and provide opportunities for proof-of-concept projects. Since Cleantech members represent a variety of businesses, Helix has an opportunity to share its expertise with a broad cross-section of organizations.

Helix is seen as a regional leader in water. We bring a lot to the table from the water world, because we manage and operate both water treatment and water distribution systems. Engaging with Cleantech also helps fulfill our mission statement – to be a progressive industry leader. This means not just setting the bar but moving it forward in a cost-effective manner.

Helix Water District Energy Use

2017 Energy Consumption kWh – 12.9 M Total Usage

What were the key points of your presentation?

We recognized that there would be a lot of large companies at the meeting and many didn’t know that Helix has been around for 100 years, or that we are the second largest water agency in the region. We wanted to highlight our longevity and proven track record and reinforce that as a government agency, we set standards of excellence in public service and will continue to do so for decades to come.

We explained how this region’s water supply is managed collaboratively: that retail water agencies like Helix are member agencies of the San Diego County Water Authority, which is a member agency of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. And, we discussed our coordinated, multi-agency efforts to shape the regulations that come out of Sacramento.


Helix Water District Electricity Use Down 25%

Energy Consumption kWh

Finally, we talked about our approach to sustainability and the water/energy nexus. Ninety percent of Helix’s electric bill is for the treatment and movement of water.  We outlined how we actively manage our energy use – how we fill our reservoir tanks at night, for example — to reduce our burden on the power grid and to minimize the rates and charges we pay; our installation of a solar panel array at our operations center in El Cajon; and our increasing use of hybrid electric vehicles.

Even though the state of California has mandated that cities reduce their energy use, there is no similar mandate for water agencies. We wanted Cleantech member companies to understand that Helix is proactively pursuing energy efficiency to reduce the cost of water for our customers and are setting the standard for other water agencies to follow.

The Water/Energy Nexus

According to a November 2018 report from the Public Policy Institute of California, about 20 percent of all electricity use in California and 30 percent of the natural gas used in homes and businesses is related to water use. This is the nexus between water and energy.

The PPIC’s diagram below explains the nexus. What may surprise you is that moving billions of gallons of water from Northern California to Southern California accounts for just 10 percent of water’s energy use, and we use four times that much energy heating water in our homes. The takeaway is that conserving water also conserves energy, and that reduces carbon emissions. We have step-by-step instructions on our website to help you get started.

Helix Then and Now – February 2, 2019

Helix Then and Now – February 2, 2019

This is our next Helix Water Talks —

Reserve your seats for the next Helix Water Talks on February 2 at our Administration Office in La Mesa. You’ll tour our 3-floor collection of historic photography and learn about the history of east county, Helix and our water supply, and what has changed over the years.

Check-in, coffee and refreshments

Welcome from Carlos Lugo

Presentation on history of east county, Helix and our water supply

Tour our 3-floor collection of historical photography

Video: South Rim Tank Rehabilitation

Video: South Rim Tank Rehabilitation

The South Rim Tank in El Cajon is one of Helix Water District’s 25 drinking water storage reservoirs. Originally built in 1956, this 1 million gallon steel storage reservoir was beginning to show its age. 

In service for 6 decades, the steel roof suffered from corrosion which prevented the tank from being operated at full capacity.

However, with the rest of the tank still in good condition, the district was able to replace the roof and rehabilitate the tank. Rehabilitation projects utilize existing structures in the rebuilding process and are less a expensive alternative than demolition and installation projects, saving the district and ratepayers money.

Watch our brief video showing the construction process and see the improvements for yourself!