Enter the WaterSmart Landscape Contest – this is your year!

Enter the WaterSmart Landscape Contest – this is your year!

This could be the year you win Helix’s WaterSmart Landscape Contest and walk away with the $250 grand prize. Why? Here’s four reasons why.

1. Your landscape is a few years old

You were excited when you planted it, but now your water efficient landscape is coming into its own. The plants have grown and all that soil you used to look at is hidden underneath the beautiful garden and habitat you created. It takes this long for a new garden to mature, but the wait was worth it.

2. You selected cool plants

You have Mediterranean plants and California native plants that need a third of the water your old lawn needed. What’s cool is that instead of having a big variety of plants, you planted groups of the same plant, and the different colors and shapes of the leaves are beautiful. Each time a plant group blooms, it’s a big splash of color.

3. You’re inspiring your neighbors

They see the two of you out in your landscape after work, plucking spent blooms off of plants and talking under the setting sun. No lawn mower. No noise. No trash bags full of clippings. Just plucking spent blooms and a little pruning in the winter and mulching in the spring.

4. Your water bill is inspiring, too

Because you’re watering the whole front yard with drip emitters. And you connected the irrigation controller to your phone so you can adjust for the weather even when you’re at work. The rain barrels were a good idea, too. Free water. In San Diego. Nice.

You know why you’re going to win the 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest? Because the judging criteria are:

Overall attractiveness

Appropriate plant selection

Design

Appropriate maintenance

Efficient methods of irrigation

Yes — 2020 is your year.

Learn more

Contest Flyer 2020

landscapecontest.com

 

Your irrigation needs to spring forward, too

Your irrigation needs to spring forward, too

We all sprang forward into Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. yesterday. Now comes the hard part — changing the time on your clocks, the oven, the coffeemaker and in each car. While you’re at it, change the clock on your irrigation controller, and give your irrigation system this 4-point check-up.

Replace the Battery in Your Timer 
Replace the battery in your timer, if there is one, to make sure you don’t lose your programmed watering schedule if the power goes out. Many timers will automatically revert to watering seven days per week, ten minutes per day, after a power outage if they don’t have a good battery.

Run the Sprinkler System  
Check to make sure all your sprinkler heads are still watering your plants and not the sidewalk or street.  Give them a simple twist if they need to be redirected. Realigning your sprinkler nozzles can save 12 to 15 gallons each watering cycle.

Check for Leaks
Look for perpetually damp spots in your yard or places where water pools – these could be a sign of a leak in your sprinkler system.

Stop Irrigating When it Rains
Don’t forget to turn off your sprinklers when rain is in the forecast and leave them off for at least 72 hours afterwards.

Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to outdoor watering.  Start a new habit and check your sprinklers when you change your clocks to make sure you’re not wasting water — and paying for it.

We’re Building a WaterSmart Demonstration Garden

We’re Building a WaterSmart Demonstration Garden

We’re breaking ground next week on a WaterSmart Demonstration Garden at our administration office in La Mesa.

The landscaping will front University Avenue, Lee Avenue and Quince Street and will feature three unique, water-wise plant palettes – a Mediterranean garden, desert garden and California native garden. Once complete, the project will showcase the beauty and water savings possible with WaterSmart plants, which need 40 to 80 percent less water than the common lawn.

The project includes removing the existing landscape, building new hardscape features, optimizing soil, and installing efficient irrigation, water-wise plants and interpretive signage. It should be complete by June 2020.

The demonstration garden goes beyond just providing inspiration – it will also provide resources for those that wish to install their own WaterSmart landscape. Upon completion, exhibit signs will introduce visitors to the three plant palettes and plant markers will identify each plant. Those markers will also include QR codes, which visitors can scan with their smartphone to learn more. Visitors will also be able to take home a free copy of the landscape’s design plan and plant palette, as well as access the information on the district’s website.

The new demonstration garden was made possible in part by funding from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Member Agency Administered Program, which supports projects that promote water-efficiency.

For Helix, the project is one more step toward a sustainable water supply and a sustainable east county.

 WaterSmart Demonstration Garden Construction Notice

Renderings: The project includes the installation of a desert garden on Lee Avenue (above), a California native garden on Quince Street (below) and a Mediterranean garden on University Avenue (bottom).

FREE landscape design workshop Saturday, March 7

FREE landscape design workshop Saturday, March 7

Reserve Your Seats!

Learn everything you need to know — from a local landscape expert — about selecting and installing beautiful and water efficient plants. Our FREE 3-hour WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop is on Saturday, March 7, from 9:00am to noon.

You’ll Learn
— How to convert your turf area to a water efficient landscape
— How to select plants that will thrive in our Mediterranean climate
— How to analyze your yard, identify soil, remove turf & irrigate efficiently
— How to create a professional landscape, planting & designs that are ready for installation

4 reasons you’ll win the 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest

4 reasons you’ll win the 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest

Here are four reasons why this is your year to win the WaterSmart Landscape Contest and walk away with the $250 grand prize.

1. Your landscape is 3-5 years old

You were excited when you planted it, but now your water efficient landscape is coming into its own. The plants have grown and all that soil you used to look at is hidden underneath the beautiful garden and habitat you created. It takes this long for a new garden to mature, but the wait was worth it.

2. You selected cool plants

You have Mediterranean plants and California native plants that need a third of the water your old lawn needed. What’s cool is that instead of having a big variety of plants, you planted groups of the same plant, and the different colors and shapes of the leaves are beautiful. And each time a plant group blooms, it’s a big splash of color.

3. You’re inspiring your neighbors

They see the two of you out in your landscape after work, plucking spent blooms off of plants and talking under the setting sun. No lawn mower. No noise. No trash bags full of clippings. Just plucking spent blooms and a little pruning in the winter and mulching in the spring.

4. Your water bill is inspiring, too

Because you’re watering the whole front yard with drip emitters. And you connected the irrigation controller to your phone so you can adjust for the weather even when you’re at work. The rain barrels were a good idea, too. Free water. In San Diego. Nice.

You know why you’re going to win the 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest? Because the judging criteria are:

Overall attractiveness

Appropriate plant selection

Design

Appropriate maintenance

Efficient methods of irrigation

Yes — 2020 is your year.

Learn more and enter at landscapecontest.com

Plant of the week: Italian Stone Pine

Plant of the week: Italian Stone Pine

The Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea) is native to the Mediterranean region, which means it’s right at home in California’s Mediterranean climate. It is a large shade tree and is also called the umbrella pine and parasol pine because of the shape of it’s canopy.

The Italian Stone Pine is also the primary source of pine nuts in Europe. While it may take years for your tree to produce pine cones, you can collect the cones off the ground and place them in a warm, sunny location until they open and expose the nuts.

Size
Height: 40-80 feet
Width: 40-60 feet

Growth Rate
24-36 inches per year

Longevity
50-150 years

Sun
Prefers full sun

Water
Like all water efficient perennials and trees, a young, newly planted tree needs six months of heavy watering (same amount of water as a lawn) to establish its roots. After that, however, it is drought tolerant and needs only 30 percent of the water a lawn needs.

Soil
Prefers loamy to sandy soil

The fundamentals of growing gorgeous lavender

The fundamentals of growing gorgeous lavender

Lavender is a tough, dependable woody perennial that will last for several years under the right conditions. Because of its Mediterranean origin, lavender loves blazing hot sun and dry soil. If your lavender doesn’t thrive, it’s most likely due to overwatering, too much shade, and high humidity levels.

Continue Reading on Garden Design’s Website

P.S. If you’re looking for water efficient plants for your garden, check out the plant list on our Sustainable Landscape webpage.

10 things to do in your east county landscape in January

10 things to do in your east county landscape in January

Garden Design Magazine’s new article, 10 Gardening Activities for January in Southern California, offers valuable strategies to get your east county landscape ready for the year ahead. The article provides links to videos and articles with step-by-step instructions, including how to prune your shrubs and roses, and how to plant, harvest and prune fruit trees. Don’t miss these important few weeks in your landscape!

Investments in water reliability paying off

Investments in water reliability paying off

Every ratepayer in the San Diego region is an investor in a reliable water supply, and today, our investments are paying off. Even if drought grips this region, or the state, we have access to enough water to meet our needs.

THE NEED FOR RELIABLE WATER

We were not always in this solid position. In 1991, after four years of drought, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California threatened to increase water delivery cutbacks  to the San Diego region from 31 percent to 50 percent. Managing drought is always challenging, but the real issue was that Metropolitan was our only water supplier.

Luckily, the drought ended before the 50 percent cutback started. However, the cities and water districts serving the San Diego region – including Helix Water District – vowed never to be in such a vulnerable position again. Over the last 25 years, we’ve collaboratively invested in, and developed a diversified and reliable water supply.

Imported water arrives to San Diego County via the San Diego County Water Authority, our region’s water supplier. SDCWA secures and delivers water to 24 cities, municipalities and water agencies, and its 36-member board of directors is made up of representatives from those 24 member agencies. Helix board members hold two seats on SDCWA’s board, helping to shape regional water policies

WATER TRANSFERS: HELPING FARMS CONSERVE

When SDCWA first looked for a new reliable water source, it turned to its water-secure neighbor in the Imperial Valley, the Imperial Irrigation District.

IID happens to have some of the largest and oldest water rights in the entire southwest. IID receives 3.1 million acre feet of Colorado River water annually – more than Arizona and Nevada receive together each year. Additionally, IID’s Colorado River rights predate California’s and even MWD’s water rights. This means that IID’s water is last in line to receive water supply cuts.

An acre-foot is 325,900 gallons – roughly enough water to submerge a football field one foot deep, or enough water to supply 2.5 single-family households of four for a year.

Looking for a secure supply, SDCWA began negotiations with IID in the early 1990’s to create large-scale, farm-to-urban transfers. In 2003, IID, Coachella Valley Water District and SDCWA signed the Quantification Settlement Agreement.  The QSA agreement allows SDCWA ratepayers to pay for on-farm conservation programs in Imperial County and allows IID to transfer the conserved water to San Diego. Last year, SDCWA received 160,000 acre-feet of water from this agreement, providing almost 35 percent of our regional water supply. This amount ramps up to 200,000 acre-feet per year in 2021 and the agreement lasts until 2078.

LINING IMPERIAL VALLEY IRRIGATION CANALS

Another benefit of the QSA is that it allowed for the transfer of water from lining porous canals in IID and CVWD. Prior to these canal linings, earthen canals lost millions of gallons of water each year to soil seepage. SDCWA financed the lining of 23 miles of the All American Canal in IID canal and another 35 miles of the Coachella Valley Canal in CVWD.

In return for the projects, SDCWA delivers to member agencies 80,000 acre-feet of this conserved water annually for the next 110 years. This is enough water to provide 15 percent of SDCWA’s annual water demands.

DESALINATION

In addition to looking for reliable sources, SDCWA wanted a diverse portfolio of water sources. This way if there is a shortage in one water source, other sources may supplement our needs.

Being a coastal community, SDCWA looked towards ocean desalination as a local, drought-proof water supply. In 2015, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant in Carlsbad opened, producing 56,000 acre-feet per year or 10 percent of our region’s annual water supply.

WATER CONSERVATION

Finally, through regional conservation programs, we use 25 percent less water today than we did in 1990, even though our population grew over 25 percent. This is thanks to almost 30 years of regional conservation programs that encourage residents to install efficient toilets, showerheads, washing machines, faucets, irrigation systems and climate appropriate landscapes.

Water we conserve is water that we do not have to annually purchase or transfer. This makes a big difference; SDCWA’s regional conservation programs conserve about 90,000 acre-feet of water each year. This is about one and a half times the amount of water  the Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant produces; to produce or transfer the same amount of water would be very expensive. Since this plant cost over $1 billion to construct, you can see savings.   

YOU BENEFIT FROM WATER SUPPLY INVESTMENTS

We have come a long way since 1990 when MWD was our sole supplier. By 2020, MWD will only provide 11 percent of SDCWA’s water supply.

With the new water transfers, local supplies,  desalination and a water use efficiency, San Diego shines as a model for long-term water reliability and sustainability. We have more access to water than we currently use. This is water for our homes and landscapes, businesses and industries and water for our growing regional needs.  

For the benefit of our region, our local leaders ensured our future by securing reliable water supplies. Through your water rates and the rates of every water customer in San Diego, we have water.

Use it as you need to, use it wisely and be proud of the future we now have.

As a member agency of the Water Authority, Helix Water District is committed to continuing to secure a sustainable water supply for our customers. To learn more about the steps and actions we are taking, visit hwd.com/sustainable-utility/