Good landscapers are always in high demand. They can make your property flourish, and help you save money and use water efficiently.
One of the most frequently asked questions we get from our customers is where they can go to hire a good landscaper.
Fortunately, there is a class on that. The best part is, the class is FREE.
Sign up with our friends at The Water Conservation Garden for a free one-hour class on what you need to know to hire a landscaper. You will learn which questions to ask, what to look for and how to plan.
The class is held via Zoom on Wednesday, May 26, from 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Photo: Reverse osmosis cannisters at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant (Source: Treatment Plant Operator Magazine).
On Monday, Governor Newsom issued a state of emergency proclamation for 41 of California’s 58 counties in response to worsening drought conditions and water shortages. All of the counties are in northern and central California. Why not Southern California? That’s a good question, and we wrote this article to answer it.
Why Not Southern California?
A state of emergency was not proclaimed for Southern California because we are not experiencing water shortages, and that is because we have additional water supplies.
Colorado River While northern and central California rely exclusively on the snow that falls in the Sierra, the Colorado River provides southern California with snowmelt from the Rockies in Colorado, the Uinta Range in Utah and the Wind River Range in Wyoming.
In 2003, the San Diego County Water Authority, the wholesale water supplier for the San Diego Region, and Imperial Irrigation District agreed to transfer 200,000 acre feet of Colorado River water to the San Diego region annually. That’s enough water for 400-600,000 homes and Imperial Irrigation District has the most senior water rights on the Colorado River.
Local Water Storage Residents and businesses in the San Diego region funded — through their water bills — the construction of Olivenhain Reservoir and the raising of San Vicente Dam. We can now store enough water within the region to meet six months of demand. And, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California built Diamond Valley Reservoir near Hemet to store a six month water supply for all of Southern California.
Water Conservation Helix, the San Diego County Water Authority and Metropolitan launched water conservation programs in the 1990s. Today, San Diegans use half the water we used 30 years ago.
Desalination Your Helix water bills also helped fund the construction of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which is the largest desalination plant in the U.S. It converts Pacific Ocean water into 50 million gallons of drinking water every day. A second desalination plant is the planning phase in Orange County.
Potable Reuse The Groundwater Replenishment System in Orange County recycles wastewater, purifies it and adds it to the groundwater to provide the region with a drought-proof water supply. Now, Helix is partnering with Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the city of El Cajon and the County of San Diego to develop a similar project to provide up to 30 percent of East County’s water. The city of San Diego’s Pure Water Project will be even larger. Oceanside and Los Angeles are also building water purification facilities.
What About Helix Customers?
Helix just released its draft 2020 Urban Water Management Plan for public comment and review. This document supports the district’s long-term planning efforts to ensure that we have enough water supplies to meet existing and future water needs.
“We are prepared and in a good position,” said Helix Water District General Manager Carlos Lugo. “Over the last few decades, our customers paid for investments in diversified water supplies to protect us during dry periods and emergencies. Our customers have also become more efficient in how they use water. Those efforts have paid off as we anticipate having enough water for our customers, even after five dry years.”
Graph:Helix Water District’s 2020 draft Urban Water Management Plan projects that the district will continue to have access to more water supplies than needed to meet demands.
What About Water Use Restrictions?
Helix has a Water Shortage Contingency Plan, but because we are not experiencing water shortages, we are not activating the plan. What is in effect are Helix’s Permanent Water Efficiency Measures, which are on our website:
A. Do not wash down paved surfaces, including but not limited to sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, tennis courts or patios, unless required for public safety or sanitation.
B. Eliminate runoff from irrigation on to hardscape, streets, structures or adjacent properties. Water waste caused by overspray from sprinklers or low head drainage is prohibited.
C. Do not water for at least 48 hours after rain.
D. Do not water turf on public street medians.
E. Use recirculated water in ornamental fountains and water features.
F. Wash vehicles using a hose with a positive shutoff nozzle and a bucket, and avoid washing vehicles during hot conditions when additional water is required.
G. Restaurants and other food service establishments may serve water upon request only.
H. Hotels, motels and other commercial lodging establishments must offer guests the option of not laundering towels and linens daily
Spring is in full swing and so are annual contests at Helix Water District.
Our contests are a fun way for us to connect with our customers, recognize their achievements and to promote water stewardship to the next generation. We have four contests open to our customers this spring – consider entering today!
Water is Life Poster Contest
Entries Due: Friday, April 30
,tudents in grades K-8 who live or attend school within Helix Water District’s service area are invited to enter the 2021 Water is Life poster contest. The contest encourages students to draw posters highlighting the importance of using water efficiently and include a short water conservation message.
Prizes are awarded to winning posters within each grade level category. First, second and third place winners in each category will be given $75, $50, and $25 respectively, and winning posters may also be featured in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s 2021 Calendar.
For contest rules and how to enter, please see the flyer and submission form links below.
Need money for college? Each year, Helix Water District offers two $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors who will begin their university studies the following fall. Applications are due May 7 for the Dr. Lillian M. Childs Scholarship and the Robert D. Friedgen Scholarship, which both provide $1,000 to help with freshman year expenses. Our scholarship committee reviews each applicant’s grades, extracurricular activities, volunteer and work experience, academic and career goals, and financial need.
To be eligible, high school seniors must graduate this spring and attend a four-year college or university next fall. Applicants must also have at least a 3.0 GPA and live in Helix’s service area, which includes the cities of Lemon Grove, La Mesa and El Cajon, the community of Spring Valley, and unincorporated areas of the county.
The annual WaterSmart landscape contest recognizes Helix customers for their beautiful, colorful and water-efficient landscapes. The contest winner will receive a $250 grand prize to the nursery of their choice. To enter, simply take a few photos of your water-efficient landscaping, share why you installed your landscaping, the types of plants you have and some of the benefits you see.
We would love to hear your story and help inspire others. For more information and to enter, visit the contest website: https://landscapecontest.com or contact us at 619-667-6226.
Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest
Entries Due: Monday, May 31
The Lake Jennings spring photo contest shares the beauty of our reservoir with the local community. Contest participants can get a free day pass to access, explore and photograph the scenic reservoir located in Lakeside. The contest is open to photos taken at Lake Jennings between March 1 and May 31, 2021.
This year’s contest theme is Life at the Lake. Photos can capture any aspect of the lake including camping, fishing, lake vistas, wildlife and wildflowers. The district will award prizes in two divisions, adult and youth. First place winners in each division will receive $150, second place winners will receive $100 and third place winners will receive $50.
Customers of Helix Water District are now eligible for rebates of up to $100 for qualifying plant-based mulch purchased and installed on or after April 12, 2021.
Landscapes thrive with mulch. Mulch helps reduce outdoor water use, retain moisture and reduce evaporation. Mulch also provides nutrients for plants, prevents weeds and creates a neat, tidy appearance for your landscape.
$25 per cubic yard up to $100
It’s easy to apply!
Purchase a qualifying mulch on or after April 12, 2021.
Complete the application with three photos showing your final installation.
Mulch purchases must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the rebate program:
Minimum purchase of 1 cubic yard (27 cubic feet) with a maximum rebate on 4 cubic yards (108 cubic feet).
Mulch must be plant-based and excludes straw. Inorganic mulch such as rock, rubber, etc. is not eligible.
Customer must purchase the mulch from a vendor or service provider (i.e., nurseries, landscape suppliers, recycling facilities, retail stores and tree trimming services).
Mulch must cover bare soil or permeable surface.
Rebate amount may not exceed purchase and delivery cost.
A cubic yard covers about 110 square feet and can fit into the bed of a small pickup truck. Rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are not guaranteed.
“Our mulch rebate is a great way to reduce water use, maintain healthy plants healthy and keep your landscaping looking great,” said Helix General Manger Carlos Lugo. “The program is grant-funded from Metropolitan Water District and we are really looking forward providing this resource to our customers”
The Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program starts today, April 5, and offers a one-time credit of up to $300 to help Helix Water District’s residential customers who live in a single-family home, are behind on their water bill and can demonstrate loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The district is partnering with Home Start, a local nonprofit organization, to administer the program. Helix customers can apply for assistance online at home-start.org or at Home Start’s El Cajon office at 333 East Main Street in El Cajon. Customers with questions can reach Home Start at 619-380-6564 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When they apply, customers need to provide documentation that their household experienced a loss of income directly related to COVID-19. The full list of criteria and accepted documentation is available at home-start.org. Assistance is available on a first come, first served basis. Home Start will contact applicants based on when they received their application.
Helix customers should also note that the application period for County of San Diego’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program has been extended. Applications will be accepted until funds are no longer available. For more information, go to www.SDHCD.org.
“This is Helix Water District’s first ever customer assistance program and I am really pleased that we found a way to make it happen,” said Helix Board President Joel Scalzitti. “Please reach out to family, friends and neighbors who may be in need of this assistance and let them know about our program.”
Because the district is legally prohibited from using water rates to assist customers, the board dedicated $500,000 from surplus land sales to fund the program. The Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program is expected to assist at least 1,400 households in need.
In March 2020, the Helix board voted to suspend late fees and shutoffs for nonpayment. In April 2020, they froze water rates.
“The board has continuously looked for ways to help our customers through the pandemic,” said Helix General Manager Carlos Lugo. “We are doing what we can to support the communities we serve.”
Helix Water District provides water storage, treatment, distribution and conservation for the 277,000 people living in the La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and El Cajon communities in San Diego’s east county suburbs.
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.
We are sharing two financial assistance programs for customers who have been financially impacted by the pandemic and need help paying their water bill.
AVAILABLE NOW: County of San Diego’s Emergency Rent and Utilities Assistance Program
The County of San Diego is offering an Emergency Rent and Utilities Assistance Program for low-income renters who are behind on their rent and utilities. Renters must have experienced a financial hardship directly or indirectly related to COVID from April 2020 through March 2021. For program eligibility and criteria, apply at SDHCD.org or call 858-694-4801.
The deadline to apply for the County of San Diego’s Emergency Rent and Utilities Assistance Program is Wednesday, March 31, 2021.
AVAILABLE IN APRIL: Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program
Starting April 5, 2021, Helix is funding a separate program that will support customers who may not meet the County of San Diego’s ERAP criteria.
Single-family residential customers who have been financially impacted by the pandemic and are behind on their Helix water bill may be eligible for our Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program. The program offers eligible participants a one-time payment of up to $300 on their Helix water bill.
Check back on April 5 for program details, including information on eligibility and how to apply. Customers can also visit hwd.fyi/help or call customer service at 619-466-0585 for program updates.
Together, we are getting through this pandemic. Please share this webpage and help a family member or neighbor find the resources and assistance they need.
With gentle rains and spring blooms, now is the best time to share your thriving landscape and enter Helix Water District’s 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.
The contest recognizes Helix customers for their beautiful, colorful and water-efficient landscapes. The contest winner will receive a $250 grand prize to the nursery of their choice.
In its 17th year, the contest highlights the beauty and benefits – beyond water savings – that water-efficient landscapes offer. Compared to traditional landscapes, water-efficient landscape designs can be one of the most effective ways to reduce overall water use. When done well, these landscapes can also dramatically improve the appearance of a home.
“We encourage customers who are happy with their water-efficient landscapes to participate,” said Helix Water District Public Affairs Representative Vince Dambrose. “If you or a friend or neighbor have a stunning water-efficient landscape, we would love to hear your story. The WaterSmart Landscape Contest is a great opportunity to get outside, share your landscape and inspire others to make changes in their yards, too.”
Entries are judged for overall attractiveness, design, plant selection, efficient irrigation and appropriate maintenance.
How to Enter:
To enter the contest, customers should visit landscapecontest.com and select their water agency, then apply. Customers can even complete their contest entries using just a smartphone. Simply take five to 10 photos of your water-efficient landscaping, share why you installed your landscaping, the types of plants you have and some of the benefits you see.
The deadline to submit applications for the 2021 contest is Friday, May 14. For more information, visit the contest website at landscapecontest.com, or contact us at 619-667-6226.
The Helix Water District Board of Directors approved funding on February 24 for the district’s first financial customer assistance program which will help east county residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All of us on the board are proud to announce the Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program, which will 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,” said Helix Board President Joel A. Scalzitti.
Because the district is legally prohibited from using water rates to assist customers, the board dedicated $500,000 from surplus land sales to fund the program.
“We’ll announce our opening date, which will be in early April, at hwd.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor,” said Helix General Manager Carlos V. Lugo. “A local non-profit organization will be administering the program for the district, and funds will be available to customers on a first come, first served basis.”
“The board has continuously looked for ways to help our customers through the pandemic,” said Scalzitti. “In March 2020, as soon as the pandemic began, we suspended late fees and water shutoffs to support public health. And, in April, we froze water rates. We’re doing what we can.”