Watch New Video: Where Does Your Money Go

Watch New Video: Where Does Your Money Go

Ever wonder what your Helix Water District water bill pays for?

We are a not-for-profit public agency. This means that every dollar we collect from customer bills goes directly to the cost of providing clean and reliable water.

Almost half of your water bill pays for purchasing imported water. The rest of your bill pays for the costs of operating, maintaining, administering, protecting and improving your 24/7 water service.

If cost is what you pay for and value is what you get, Helix customers can be assured they receive a superior value at a reasonable cost.

Watch our video and see the breakdown of where your dollar goes.

Video Transcript: Where Does My Money Go

At Helix Water District, every dollar collected from customer bills, goes directly towards the costs of providing our customers with a clean and reliable source of water.

Let’s take a look at how those expenses break down.

Forty-three percent of each bill covers the cost of purchasing imported water. That’s just about half of every dollar that we spend.

Thirteen percent covers the operating and maintenance costs that keep our water delivery and treatment systems up and running.

Twelve percent funds capital projects such as pipeline replacements, tank retrofits and expenses to buy equipment.

Nine percent covers water treatment and quality control costs, which ensure your water is safe to drink.

Nine percent covers administrative expenses needed to run the district.

Three percent covers engineering costs. This allows the district to design and make improvements to our water treatment and delivery systems.

Three percent covers meter reading, billing and customer service expenses, so when you have a question or need some help, Helix is there for you.

Three percent pays for information technology, the computers and software behind our water systems, administration and customer service.  IT keeps us running.

Three percent covers energy costs to treat and pump water, and the electricity used to operate district facilities.

Two percent repays bonds and other debt.

And not one penny goes towards profits.  Helix is a not-for-profit agency.

For more details, visit hwd.com

Connect

We're on social media every day with the latest news from Helix. It's also where you'll find us, and the latest news, during an emergency.

Helix to Use Legal Settlement to Reduce Future Rate Increases

Helix to Use Legal Settlement to Reduce Future Rate Increases

Helix Water District will use  $2.8 million received from the San Diego County Water Authority as part of a legal settlement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to reduce future water rate increases for the district’s customers.

The Water Authority announced a plan on February 25 to distribute $44.4 million to its 24 member agencies after receiving a check for that amount from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest resulting from a decade-long rate case. The Water Authority sued Metropolitan for overcharges on imported water, and then sent a portion of the damages received to member agencies based on each agency’s overpayments from 2011 to 2014.

“This issue directly impacted Helix and our customers,” said Helix General Manager Carlos Lugo. “Our board is really pleased that the Water Authority recovered the overcharges and is returning the money so that we can return it to our customers, by reducing future rate adjustments.”

The Helix board voted on March 3, after a year of financial analysis and cost-cutting measures, to move ahead with an April 28 public hearing on water rate adjustments over the next two years.

To minimize the proposed rate increases, the district will use $5 million from its rate stabilization fund, defer $3 million in planned pre-payments to the California Public Employees Retirement System and defer $2 million in planned investment in the district’s infrastructure.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep rates low and help our customers,” said Helix Board President Joel Scalzitti. “Putting $2.8 million back into our depleted rate stabilization fund will certainly help.”

In 2020, the Helix board approved a zero rate increase and froze late payment fees and shutoffs for nonpayment in the wake of widespread job losses. On February 24, the board approved the Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program, which will start on April 5 and offer a one-time credit of up to $300 for Helix single-family residential customers who are behind on their water bills and can document that they have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

Watch: New Video Shares the Value of Water

Watch: New Video Shares the Value of Water

We’re sharing a new video highlighting the importance of water in our everyday lives.

Water is the building block of everything we do. Water helps get us ready in the morning, keeps our businesses running and allows our communities and economy to thrive.

Watch our new video and see the value of clean, safe and essential drinking water delivered to your faucets and taps every day.

Video Transcript: Value of Service

Water is critical in everything that we do.

Water is life.  You can’t survive without it during times like the pandemic that we’re in now currently.  I think that our customers better understand the value of water, the essential need for that water.  Especially when they need to wash their hands, they need to bathe clean surfaces during this difficult time and that just goes to the fact that we need to focus our efforts even more on being more reliable and assuring the customers that we’re providing them a clean safe source of drinking water.

It is an essential building block of what supports us here.  It’s life-sustaining, it supports the economy not only in the big scheme of things in San Diego county but also supports the local economy.  It supports the family structure within the community.  You know, when I’m explaining this to my children it’s, you know, it’s important to recognize that every single drop of water they save ensures that in the future, when they turn on the faucet to brush their teeth or to take a shower, that there’s going to be water there and that matters.

You know I still don’t think people really fully appreciate the resource and how, how good you know a country like ours has it when it comes to water as a resource.  I mean truly it’s still under a penny a gallon.  You can buy a Starbucks you know, for three or four dollars.  A cup of water is delivered 24/7 to your tap for less than a penny a gallon.

So, I think all too often because we don’t necessarily understand or see the inner workings of water delivery from the source water to your tap, we all too often take that process for granted.  Or, if you really kind of thought about it each and every day how often you touch water, it’s absolutely a vital resource.

I think you could probably get by without power.  But, if you turn your water off for 24 hours, you would really feel the difference when you turn on your tap.

As a customer of Helix Water District, you know it’s going to be safe, it’s going to be there 24/7, and it’s going to be clean and it’s going to taste great.

Connect

We're on social media every day with the latest news from Helix. It's also where you'll find us, and the latest news, during an emergency.

Helix Board Discusses Next Fiscal Year at Budget Workshop

Helix Board Discusses Next Fiscal Year at Budget Workshop

In a five-hour budget workshop on February 3, the Helix Water District Board of Directors listened, questioned and discussed the draft budget presented for each of the district’s cost centers, from water treatment to system operations, vehicles and IS systems.

The board will decide over the next several months how to balance two pressing issues – how to recover the cost of water storage, treatment and distribution for the 277,000 people the district serves, and how best to meet the needs of customers experiencing economic hardship caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

In April 2020, to support customers impacted by the pandemic, the board approved a zero rate increase and froze late payment fees and shutoffs for nonpayment.

Nine months have passed, the pandemic has not, and it’s time once again for the board to approve a budget and to set water rates to recover the costs needed to run the district and keep water safely and reliably flowing to customer taps.

“We have additional challenges this year due to the lack of local rainfall and because of an expected increase in the cost of water,” said Carlos Lugo, General Manager.

As a result of dry conditions in San Diego County, water levels in Lake Cuyamaca are too low to offset the cost of imported water, and dry conditions statewide have pushed the cost of that imported water higher.

“Water purchases are our single largest expense,” said Director of Administrative Services Jennifer Bryant. “They make up over half of our operating expense budget and are expected to increase by $6.7 million in the coming year.”

The Helix board is considering using $4 million from the district’s rate stabilization reserve fund, deferring $2,000,000 of capital spending and discussing the use of other reserves to offset water costs.

The February 3 budget workshop was the second in a series of meetings leading up to a vote on a final budget for the upcoming fiscal year on March 17.

All Helix board meetings are conducted online and open to the public. Meetings are broadcast on zoom.com and the meeting number and password are provided on page one of each board meeting agenda.

 

Connect

We're on social media every day with the latest news from Helix. It's also where you'll find us, and the latest news, during an emergency.

Helix Swears in Returning Board Members

Helix Swears in Returning Board Members

Helix Board Secretary swears in three returning board members.

Division 1 Director Daniel H. McMillan, Division 3 Director Mark Gracyk and Division 5 Director Joel A. Scalzitti received certificates of election following the administration of the oath of office today.

The oath of office took place outside of the district’s administration building in the newly planted WaterSmart demonstration landscape.

Director McMillan and Director Scalzitti received a majority of votes in their respective divisions during the November 2020 election.  Board President Gracyk ran unopposed.

Their terms will expire in December of 2024.

Helix is governed by a five-member board of directors. Each director is elected by the communities in which they reside to oversee district policies and represent Helix on regional and state-level water resources management and policymaking. Members of the board serve four-year terms.

The directors will elect new board officers at the December 9, 2020 board meeting.

To view the district’s division map, visit hwd.com/board

Helix board member Mark Gracyk signing oath of office

Board President Mark Gracyk

Helix board member Joel Scalzitti signing oath of office

Director Joel Scalzitti

Helix board member Dan McMillan signing oath of office

Director Dan McMillan

Helix board members

Above: Helix Board Members. (From right to left: Dan McMillan, DeAna Verbeke, Mark Gracyk, Kathleen Hedberg, Joel Scalzitti)

Connect

We're on social media every day with the latest news from Helix. It's also where you'll find us, and the latest news, during an emergency.

Review our results, budget and goals in three new reports

Review our results, budget and goals in three new reports

Every three years, Helix applies for and receives a District Transparency Certificate of Excellence from the Special District Leadership Foundation. Applying for the certificate requires a comprehensive review of all that we do, from how we conduct public meetings and handle public information requests, to how we disclose financial transactions and the results of our annual audit, to the information we are required to share on our website. That’s why we apply – to assure that we are an open book to the communities we serve.

If you want to know how Helix is managing the quality and reliability of your tap water, we recommend reading two reports that we publish each year in the fall. Start with our annual report, where we share our performance metrics – everything we accomplished last year. Then take a look at our budget. You don’t have to read the whole budget, just the introduction, where Helix General Manager Carlos Lugo explains what we plan to do, and why, in the year ahead.

This fall, we have one more document to browse: Our 2020 strategic plan, where we outline Helix’s goals and objectives for the next five years.

You’ll find the links to these documents below.

Our Annual Report

We make our annual report easy to scan. There are articles to read, but you’ll also find a lot of photos, diagrams and pages where we display the performance metrics for each of Helix’s departments. Do you know how much water we treated last year? We treated 14.8 billion gallons. We also replaced 15,100 feet of cast-iron pipe and each of our meter readers walked 2,340 miles. That’s one of our favorite metrics, and there are many more throughout the report.

“This report is where a customer can see what water rates pay for,” said Helix General Manager Carlos Lugo. “Purchasing imported water accounts for about half of the district’s annual expenses, and here you can see the other half of our budget – managing two dams, what we do at our treatment plant, how we maintain our infrastructure and what administration includes, from customer service to finance and IT.”

The report also includes the district’s financial statements, and before that, the financial highlights that defined the year.

“The financial highlights show what happens to the district’s finances when it rains in our local mountains, and how we flattened expenses in response to the pandemic,” said Helix Director of Administrative Services Jennifer Bryant. “These are the two things defining the district’s financial position, but they’re easy to miss amongst all the numbers in the financial statements.”

“We want you to know what we do here, each day and every year, to ensure the quality and reliability of your water service,” said Lugo.

We hope you browse our three documents.

Read Our Fiscal Year 2019-20 Annual Report

Read Our Fiscal Year 2020-21 Budget

Read Our Strategic Plan 

 

Connect

We're on social media every day with the latest news from Helix. It's also where you'll find us, and the latest news, during an emergency.

Helix to Use Legal Settlement to Reduce Future Rate Increases

Helix’s board thanks water professionals for essential work

Helix Water District’s Board of Directors adopted a resolution yesterday proclaiming the week of October 3-11, 2020, as Water Professionals Appreciation Week, highlighting the essential role of water agency professionals.

Now more than ever, we appreciate the dedication of our highly trained staff who are making sure our community has safe and reliable drinking water.

“I am proud of my fellow board members, and of Helix’s management team and staff, for maintaining the safety and quality of the water we provide, and the 24/7 service we all depend on,” said Helix Water District’s Board President Mark Gracyk.

Water Professionals Appreciation Week was established in 2017 by Senate Concurrent Resolution 80, by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa). The measure was sponsored by a coalition of water associations led by the Association of California Water Agencies, WateReuse California, California Municipal Utilities Association, California Association of Sanitation Agencies, and California Water Association. Under SCR 80, the annually designated week begins on the first Saturday of October and ends on the Sunday of the following weekend.

Recent labor studies estimate that 60,000 people work in California’s water industry and it needs roughly 6,000 new employees each year due to turnover. The water industry offers a wide variety of rewarding career opportunities in construction, engineering, biology, finance, business administration, law, communications and many more types of positions in high-demand occupations.

Connect

We're on social media every day with the latest news from Helix. It's also where you'll find us, and the latest news, during an emergency.

Fitch affirms Helix Water District AA+ Credit Rating

Fitch affirms Helix Water District AA+ Credit Rating

On Tuesday, August 18, Fitch Global Ratings, a global independent credit rating organization, affirmed an AA+ rating with a Stable Outlook for Helix Water District.

The AA+ rating is the second-highest credit rating an agency can receive and is a key criteria that investors use to determine interest rates for financing.

The AA+ rating reflects the district’s very strong financial stability. The process evaluates the district’s financial profile, ability to pay back loans, to limit operating risks and to recover costs.

“We are very pleased to have an AA+ rating from Fitch rating,” said Director of Administrative Services Jennifer Bryant. “This action, coming amid a pandemic and tremendous economic uncertainty, speaks to the strength of our organization, and is the result of sound fiscal policies backed by our Helix board and excellent operational management from Helix staff.”

Higher Fitch ratings allow agencies like Helix Water District to receive lower interest rates on governmental bonds. Since bonds often have 15-30 year terms, having a lower interest rate can produce a substantial cost savings to customers. Upholding a good credit rating shows that the district is in good fiscal health and can continue to reliably and affordably serve customers.

Helix Water District is a not-for-profit local government agency that provides water treatment and distribution for 277,000 people in the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove, the community of Spring Valley and areas of Lakeside — east of downtown San Diego. Helix also provides treated water to neighboring Padre Dam, Otay and Lakeside water districts.

Learn more and read the report.

Connect

We're on social media every day with the latest news from Helix. It's also where you'll find us, and the latest news, during an emergency.

Review our results, budget and goals in three new reports

Helix Water District approves 2020-21 budget with a 0.4 percent increase

On April 1, the board voted to freeze water rates through the end of 2020, and adopted a budget on June 3 that limits spending in fiscal year 2020-21.

District costs next year, including operations and maintenance, water purchases and capital projects, are increasing by just 0.4 percent or $382,000.

“We all agreed that we needed to help customers struggling financially with the pandemic,” said Helix Board President Mark Gracyk.

The fiscal year 2020-21 budget is the result of our continuous focus on cost effectiveness and the benefit of  local rainfall. Spring showers in March and April reduced customer water use and reduced the district’s imported water purchases by delivering 4,370 acre feet of local water. Our local water will reduce next year’s imported water purchases by $4.6 million.

Read the 2020-21 Budget

Related Posts

Watch New Video: Where Does Your Money Go

Watch New Video: Where Does Your Money Go

Ever wonder what your Helix Water District water bill pays for? We are a not-for-profit public agency. This means that every dollar we collect from customer bills goes directly to the cost of providing clean and reliable water. Almost half of your water bill pays for...

Watch: New Video Shares the Value of Water

Watch: New Video Shares the Value of Water

We’re sharing a new video highlighting the importance of water in our everyday lives.Water is the building block of everything we do. Water helps get us ready in the morning, keeps our businesses running and allows our communities and economy to thrive. Watch our new...