Helix Collecting Toys for Tots

Helix Collecting Toys for Tots

Going shopping on Black Friday to get the lowest prices of the year?  Consider picking up an extra gift or two to make the holidays a little brighter  for less fortunate local families and donate to the Toys for Tots program.

Over the next few weeks, until Monday December 16, Helix is serving as a drop-off location for the 2019 Toys for Tots Program. You can bring in a new, unwrapped toy to the Helix Administration Office, and we will deliver them to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program.  On Christmas, Marine Corps coordinators will work with local nonprofits to distribute the gifts to families in and around East County.

Our Toys for Tots collection box will be in the lobby of our Administration Office at 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa. We’re open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Wondering what to buy? Here are some helpful answers from the Marine Corps:

Q: Is there a list of toys available to help me?
Toys for Tots does not publish a list of appropriate toys to donate.  If such a list were created, most would follow it, resulting in a limited selection of items to distribute in each community.  We would rather our donors consider what might be an appropriate gift for their own child/relative, purchase the item, and donate to Toys for Tots.

Q: Shopping for pre-teens and teens is especially difficult.  Do you have any ideas?
The Foundation does purchase supplemental toys/gifts for our campaign sites and focuses on these age groups.  In the past, items purchased for these groups have included, but are not limited to:  sporting equipment/bags/balls; books, backpacks, cosmetics, purses, watch/wallet gift sets, bath gift sets, board games, radio control cars/trucks, hand-held electronics, skateboards/helmets, curling irons, hair straighteners, and hair dryers.

Q: Are there toys or gifts that are not accepted?
Toys for Tots prefers not to accept realistic looking weapons and gifts with food.  If donated, such items will NOT be distributed.

Q: Should I gift wrap my donated toy?


Thank you, in advance, to all of those who donate.

See how our water system works — Helix Water Chats is on Thursday, December 5

See how our water system works — Helix Water Chats is on Thursday, December 5

Learn how our water system works and see how we plan, design, and upgrade our vital infrastructure for today and tomorrow. – at Helix Water Chats on Thursday, December 5.

Water is heavy – just over 8 pounds per gallon. That means we need a heavy-duty system to deliver it across 50 square miles and up each hill to 276,000 people. And, we have to design the facilities we build today to provide the water El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley will need in 2070, and connect it to facilities we built in 1970.

Helix Water District’s Director of Engineering Jim Tomasulo will discuss how Helix’s complex water system continuously operates to deliver water to our customers and how we plan, design, and upgrade our vital infrastructure for today and tomorrow. This should be good, and we hope you can join us for an insightful evening.

Date and Time
Thursday, December 5
6 – 7:30 p.m.

Helix Administration Office
7811 University Avenue, La Mesa
(Parking in the back of the building)

6:00         Coffee and cookies
6:10          Welcome and introductions
6:15          Presentation
7:00          Questions and discussion

Helix Helps plants trees at Harry Griffen Park

Helix Helps plants trees at Harry Griffen Park

Featured Photo:  Some of the Helix employees, retirees, and their families and friends who helped planted trees at Harry Griffen Park this past Saturday as part of the Helix Helps volunteer program. 

Helix Helps headed out to Harry Griffen Park last Saturday, November 9, for the City of La Mesa’s 14th annual Park Appreciation Day.

The city put on a great event, with over a hundred volunteers showing up to plant 200 trees throughout the park. Certified tree arborists gave everyone a step-by-step lesson in tree planting, from digging to mulching, and remained on hand to help volunteers as they got to work.

The newly planted trees will help La Mesa increase its urban tree canopy, which is one of the city’s climate action plan goals. Trees improve air and water quality, reduce heat island effects and provide important natural habitats.

Under the Helix Helps program, Helix employees, families and friends volunteer their time to help support the communities the district serves. Follow us on Twitter to learn about upcoming Helix Helps events.

Below: Helix Water District and City of La Mesa volunteers and representatives.

Thank You, Veterans

Thank You, Veterans

This is a military town and it’s likely you know a veteran – a family member, friend, neighbor or coworker.

Each year, approximately 15,000 personnel from the Navy and Marines conclude their military careers in San Diego. Some of those veterans transition into public service jobs, including water. We’re proud that 10 percent of current Helix employees are military veterans.

All of us at Helix Water District would like to thank U.S. military veterans, including our employees, for their service and their sacrifices. As a small token of our gratitude, all veterans and active-duty military fish free on Monday, November 11 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lake Jennings.

Additionally, for our military veteran customers, we are offering a free water conservation kit that includes a water-efficient showerhead, shower timer, aerators and more. Come by our administration building at 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa to get yours through November 15.

We appreciate your service.

New law creates path to water industry jobs for military veterans

New law creates path to water industry jobs for military veterans

Assembly Bill 1588 has been signed into law, making it possible for veterans to receive credit for their military education and experience when applying for civilian water and wastewater system operator certifications in California.

State legislators, water industry leaders, veteran advocates, businesses and community organizations gathered at the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park on Wednesday to celebrate the signing of AB 1588 by Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (San Diego), Adam Gray (Merced) and Tasha Boerner Horvath (Oceanside).

The bill was co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and Otay Water District as the water and wastewater industries face a wave of retirements statewide. Known as the “silver tsunami,” more than 30 percent of the San Diego region’s 4,500 water and wastewater professionals are expected to reach retirement age by 2024.

“What we are missing, and what this bill addresses, is a pathway in which we honor the experience of our veterans and allow that experience to qualify them for a career path in our civilian water systems,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “Thanks to Governor Newsom, that pathway now exists. California will now properly credit the service of our veterans and enable them to secure good-paying jobs here in our water system. In this time – when the importance of clean water and good paying jobs is undeniable – let’s create bridges not barriers.”

AB 1588 provides a pathway for veterans – who worked in water and wastewater while in the military – to apply their advanced skills and experience toward state and industry certifications in the civilian water and wastewater treatment and distribution operator fields.

Helix Water District’s board has supported AB 1588 since its introduction. “This bill is a win for both veterans and the water industry,” said U.S. Army veteran and Helix’s Board Vice President Mark Gracyk. “It provides veterans with a clear career path as they transition to civilian life, and it provides water agencies with an expanded hiring pool of experienced and dedicated individuals.”

When the power goes out, your water service does not.

When the power goes out, your water service does not.

As semi-rural portions of California are experiencing planned power outages, some California residents have experienced interrupted water service.

We know that having water service during a power outage is important.  For this reason, Helix has taken extra steps and planned for this sort of emergency so that we can continue to reliably provide you with water. Our pump stations, treatment plant and other facilities are all equipped with back-up generators. The district maintains a warehouse of extra parts, supplies and fuel to allow for continued operations, no matter the disruption.

To learn more, or see how you can be prepared visit: hwd.com/emergencies.

Above: One of Helix’s mobile generators for smaller pump stations

Reserve your Spots: Helix Water Talks on October 26

Reserve your Spots: Helix Water Talks on October 26

We have openings for Helix Water Talks on Saturday, October 26. Come take a behind the scenes look at our water distribution system and how we deliver water to over 275,000 people in El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley. Learn about pipe, valves, meters and more.

Join the tour!


8:30-9:00 a.m.

Coffee and refreshments

9:00-9:20 a.m.


9:30-11:00 a.m.
Walking tour, presentations and demonstrations on:

  • Repairing water mains
  • Installing water service lines and water meters
  • Helix’s water meter maintenance and replacement program
  • How customers can detect low-flow leaks
  • How we maintain multiple generations of infrastructure
  • The role of design and construction standards
  • Emergency preparedness
  • And more…

11:00-11:30 a.m.
Questions and answers

We encourage you to reserve your spots on the tour (up to four) as soon as you can, because our past Water Talks filled up fast. We look forward to meeting you.


Reserve your spots today!

DIY Energy Saving and Sustainability Toolkits now available for La Mesa residents

DIY Energy Saving and Sustainability Toolkits now available for La Mesa residents

The City of La Mesa, in conjunction with Helix Water District and SDG&E, is making it easy for its residents to save energy, conserve water and reduce waste by providing DIY Energy Saving and Sustainability Toolkits which are available for free checkout at La Mesa City Hall and Helix Water District.

 What’s in the toolkit

The DIY toolkit includes step-by-step instructions and all of the tools and free resources that you need for a do-it-yourself home energy, water and sustainability assessment. You’ll install the free resources at your home and return the tools when you’re done. The toolkit includes:

Free Resources (you keep and install)

LED light bulb

Weather stripping

Outlet gaskets

Detect-A-Leak toilet tablets

Low-flow showerhead

Low-flow faucet aerators

 Tools (return with the kit)

Kill-A-Watt meter

Infrared laser thermometer

Refrigerator thermometer

Water flow rate bag

Water pressure gauge


Plumbers tape

 and more!

 How to check out a toolkit

The DIY toolkits are available to City of La Mesa residents and can be checked out for up to two weeks. Make your online reservation and choose your pick-up location – either La Mesa City Hall or Helix Water District’s administration office at 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa. When you’re done with kit, simply return it to the pick-up location.

 The toolkits are a partnership between the City of La Mesa, Helix Water District and SDG&E to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the City of La Mesa meet their climate action plan goals. Help make your community cleaner and greener by making your reservation today!

You can learn more about the program and watch the City of La Mesa’s video here.

Helix helps restore water system in Paradise

Helix helps restore water system in Paradise

Photo: The crew from Helix and Padre Dam with Paradise Irrigation District employees. The banner is signed by Helix and Padre Dam board members and employees.

Helix Water District sent four operations employees to Paradise, the northern California town leveled by the Camp Fire in November 2018, to help restore the community’s water distribution system.

They left Helix’s operations center at 3:30 a.m. on August 18, with two employees from neighboring Padre Dam Municipal Water District, and worked Monday through Friday in Paradise.

“If you closed your eyes, all you heard were friendly people. Everyone in town was very positive,” said Helix Utility Crew Supervisor Dan Baker. “But, when you looked around, there were trucks and workers everywhere — rebuilding.”

At the end of July, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) reported that they had removed 75 percent of the structural debris from the Camp Fire in Paradise and Butte County, including 1.6 million tons of ash and debris, over 518,000 tons of concrete, 37,000 tons of metal and over 446,000 tons of contaminated soil.

On August 6, Paradise residents gathered to hear the progress reports from all of the local and state agencies involved in rebuilding the community. The California Office of Emergency Services is developing a plan to remove the hazardous trees still standing, the town is opening a resource center to streamline the permitting process for residents rebuilding their homes, and the school district is making sure the new school year begins on schedule.

Top: Fire damage in Paradise, California. Below: Helix employees John Wilson, Eric Hughes, Dan Baker and Bryan Watte, and Padre Dam workers Jesse Knowles and Austin Darley.

But a safe water supply is still an issue. The water distribution system was contaminated during the fire with Benzene, a known carcinogen. Fire officials believe that the system depressurized during the fire and sucked in a toxic mix of gases from burning homes. This also happened in Santa Rosa during the Tubbs Fire in 2017.

Paradise Irrigation District General Manager Kevin Phillips reported to residents on August 6 that the district lifted water advisories on 133 standing homes and is testing and restoring water quality at 30-50 standing homes each week.

When Helix offered mutual aid assistance through the Office of Emergency Services, Phillips said they had cleared the gases from their water mains, but could use help testing and restoring water quality in customer service lines — the small pipe that connects a home to the water main. Helix sent Baker and Bryan Watte from its meters and valves section and John Wilson and Eric Hughes from its construction section to provide that help.

From 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, the four went from one water meter to the next, collecting a water sample at each standing home and installing a highline to deliver safe water to the home until the sample was tested and the customer service line approved for use. They also assisted with the installation of backflow prevention assemblies to prevent contamination from the ongoing construction throughout the community. Phillips reported to residents on August 6 that PID had installed 275 backflow prevention assemblies to date, and had 400 more to install.

Monday evening, after their first day in Paradise, Baker emailed Helix Operations Director Kevin Miller that, “There’s a lot of work up here but the town is healing. I think I speak for all four of us when I say I’m proud to be a part of this.”

In fact, Baker was speaking for everyone at Helix. Field Supervisor Paul LaFalce said, “We lost four valuable people here at Helix for a week, but everyone was so supportive of what was happening in Paradise that they covered for them and made up the difference. It was good to see.”

The four took with them to Paradise a “California Strong. Paradise Strong.” banner signed by board members and district employees at both Helix and Padre Dam. Helix engineer Jeff McMaster emailed, “Sending a crew to help, the banner, this definitely reinforces the pride in working here.”

Helix Water District provides water treatment for much of San Diego’s east county suburbs and water distribution for the 276,000 people in the cities of La Mesa, Lemon Grove and El Cajon, the Spring Valley community and unincorporated areas of the county.