Take a 360-degree virtual tour of east county’s future water supply

Take a 360-degree virtual tour of east county’s future water supply

We are excited to share a new, 360-degree virtual reality video tour of the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, which will create a new, local, sustainable and drought-proof water supply.

Take the 360-degree virtual tour – you’ll be greeted by the program’s Big Deal animated mascot and then immersed into a guided tour of the program’s water facilities. Look all around by simply moving your computer mouse or phone to anywhere in the video.

If you have a virtual reality headset for your cell phone, take the tour one-step further by “stepping into” the video! Virtual tour locations include the Ray Stoyer Water Recycling Facility, the East County AWP Demonstration Facility and Lake Jennings. Community groups, schools and scouts can view the video using program-provided virtual reality googles beginning in October – simply reach out to program representatives to schedule.

Scheduled to be complete in 2025, the East County AWP is a partnership between Helix Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon and the County of San Diego that will produce up to 30 percent of east county’s drinking water supply. The East County AWP will use four advanced water purification steps to produce water that is safe and near-distilled in quality. After the advanced water purification process, the purified water will be blended with water in Lake Jennings and treated again at the R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant before being distributed as drinking water.

To watch the 360-degree virtual reality video and learn more about the program, check it out via your desktop or the YouTube app to experience all features.

 

 Take the 360-degree virtual tour of ECAWP

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Our 2020 drinking water quality report is available

Our 2020 drinking water quality report is available

Want to know more about the tap water delivered to your home by Helix Water District? Read our latest Water Quality Report, which discusses the quality of our water in calendar year 2020.

We treated and distributed 9.7 billion gallons of water to Helix customers in 2020, and we are pleased to report that we were fully compliant with all federal and state water quality standards.

100%

Compliance
U.S. EPA Health
Standards

100%

Compliance
California Health
Standards

100%

Compliance
U.S. EPA Lead and
Copper Rule

Zero

Lead in our
water distribution
system

How do we ensure that you have high quality water every day? We have experienced, highly trained people managing our chemistry and biology labs, treatment plant and distribution system; a lot of technology; and a deep commitment to the communities we serve.

Click on the button below to view the report. To receive a printed copy of the report, please call 619-466-0585. If you have questions about water quality, please call 619-667-6248 or email [email protected]

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Emergency Preparedness at Helix

Emergency Preparedness at Helix

You have probably heard from the news or a friend or relative that many in Texas were without water after last week’s polar vortex. While the utilities now have power, many are under a boil water notice. The boil water notice was required after some utilities lost power to pump stations, which help maintain adequate pressure and water quality in a distribution system.

Our hearts go out to the impacted communities and the utility workers who are working tirelessly to restore water for their residents and customers. While there is less of a threat of an icy polar vortex hitting San Diego, our region has its own natural disasters. Some emergencies occur less frequently, like a global pandemic. Others can occur more regularly, like droughts, earthquakes, pipe breaks, wildfires and power outages.

Knowing which emergencies to prepare for and how much to prepare for them is a complex task. Emergency preparedness balances the likelihood of an emergency, prevention costs, and the cost of not being prepared. At Helix, we continually evaluate our risks and costs to ensure we are taking adequate and reasonable action to be prepared and protect our customers.

For example, following the 2011 Southwest blackout, we invested in developing more robust backup generators for our critical infrastructure like our treatment plant, buildings and critical pump stations. We can now withstand a prolonged power outage. We also invested in emergency fuel storage and stock extra parts and supplies to allow for continued operations without an electrical grid.

Installing generator with a crane
Backup generator installed at El Cajon Operations Center
Filling of fuel tank at Helix Operations Center
Installation of district’s emergency fuel tank
Deployable emergency generator at Helix pump station
Deployable, emergency generator

Helix also engages in proactive maintenance and emergency training so that when an emergency arises, we are ready. We maintain our valves, equipment and machinery so that our infrastructure works reliably. We use the opportunities of planned shutdowns and maintenance to simulate an emergency and train our staff on how to move, treat and deliver water under different scenarios.

Emergency preparedness and ensuring water reliability is an ongoing investment. We prepare because we want to keep your water flowing to you. Through our planning, building and training, we are ready to keep serving you.

We can help you prepare, too. Go to hwd.com/emergencies for vital information on how to make a plan for your famhwd.com/emergenciesly.

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Water Quality and Safety

Water Quality and Safety

Following this week’s water treatment plant hack in Florida, we received some inquiries as to whether this could happen at Helix.

The FBI has determined that the Florida plant security breach was due to outdated Windows 7 software, passwords that had not been updated, and the use of off-the-shelf, publicly available software to allow operators to access the plant’s control system remotely.

We would like to assure our customers that the above issues are not issues at Helix.  We have made investments in infrastructure and have systems in place to protect our facilities against these types of attacks.

The safety and quality of the water we provide is our top priority.

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Helix launches virtual school programs

Helix launches virtual school programs

Third and fifth grade teachers in the Helix Water District service area can now enroll their classes in one of Helix’s virtual school programs. 

We have a hands-on activity for third graders and a virtual tour of our R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant for fifth graders. Each one-hour program meets next-generation science standards and STEAM curriculum requirements.

Our third-grade program, “Dams, Lakes and Rivers,”  offers a live presentation for third graders to learn about natural water supplies and storage reservoirs, including Lake Jennings, the district’s reservoir and recreational area located in Lakeside. We provide classes with materials so students can be engineers and build a functional dam.

We transitioned our fifth-grade treatment plant tour to a live, virtual tour. We will take students virtually through the R.M Levy Water Treatment Plant and go step-by-step through our drinking water treatment process. Students will see the plant inside and out, learn the process and hear from actual experts at the plant about what it takes to supply clean drinking water to our faucets each day.

“Our interactive virtual school programs introduce students to our water resources, infrastructure and water quality,” said Helix Water District’s Director of Administrative Service Jennifer Bryant. “We designed our programs with the students in mind, and made them engaging, informative and fun.”

Teachers can book a virtual activity by contacting our Education Assistant, Francine Thompson, at 619-667-6264 or [email protected]

About Helix Water District

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.

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Our 2020 Water Quality Report is Available

Our 2020 Water Quality Report is Available

Helix Water District’s tap water met all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and State of California health standards for drinking water in 2019. The district’s 2020 Water Quality Report documents the quality of our treated water throughout calendar year 2019 and is now available at hwd.fyi/wqr2020-english and hwd.fyi/wqr2020-espanol.

The annual Water Quality Report, also known as the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), contains important information about the sources and quality of the drinking water we provide to the cities of La Mesa, Lemon Grove and El Cajon, the Spring Valley community, and areas of Lakeside and the county.

If you have questions regarding the report, call 619-667-6248 or email [email protected] To have a paper copy of the report mailed to your home, call 619-466-0585.

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Concerned about Coronavirus?

Concerned about Coronavirus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is known to spread from person to person through close contact, similar to how the flu is transmitted. There is currently no evidence to support that Coronavirus (COVID-19) is transmitted through drinking water. Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be disinfected through use of ozone, chlorine and other treatment processes used in processing your tap water.

Drinking Water Safety

Treatment Process

We utilize multiple steps in our treatment process that physically remove, disinfect and chemically inactivate viruses, bacteria and other living organisms from our drinking water. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is susceptible to drinking water treatment processes.

Continuous Sampling

We continuously monitor and test our water throughout the treatment process and distribution system to ensure its quality and safety.

Flu is Not Spread Through Tap Water

The flu, which is a respiratory illness, is not spread from tap water. The coronavirus, also a respiratory illness, is not any different.

What can you do?
According to the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, coronavirus, like the flu, is spread from person to person contact, breathing or contacting respiratory droplets from an infected person, and contacting surfaces contaminated with a virus. If you are concerned about the spread of viruses, look to taking these preventative steps to keep you healthy:

Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds

Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose with unwashed hands

Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or sneezing

Clean high-contact surfaces like phone screens, keyboards, doorknobs, steering wheels etc.

Get plenty of rest to keep your immune system healthy

For more information about virus prevention and treatment, please go to the CDC’s website at
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

Want to see for yourself?

Sign up for our next Helix Water Talks on Saturday, May 2, for an in-depth look at our water treatment process. You will tour our treatment plant and laboratories and have your questions answered by the very men and women who ensure the safety and reliability of your drinking water.

Register here

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Water Supply Update

Water Supply Update

Here is the first of our water supply updates for winter 2020, documenting our water supply conditions at the end of January. We will post two more updates the first week of March and the first week of April. The goal of the reports is to show you the status of our three primary water resources: the Colorado River, California’s State Water Project, and Lake Cuyamaca here in our local mountains. 

Colorado River

Most of the water in the Colorado River comes from the snowpack in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Utah’s Uinta and Wasatch Mountains and Wyoming’s Wind River Range. This winter’s snowpack is, so far, above the median.

Colorado River Upper Basin Snowpack / February 5, 2020

The above-the-median snowpack is encouraging, because Lake Mead, which provides water storage for Arizona, Nevada and Southern California is only 43 percent full.

Lake Mead Level / February 4, 2020

California’s State Water Project

California’s State Water Project captures snowmelt and precipitation in the Feather River Basin in the Northern Sierra and stores the water in Lake Oroville. Blended water from the Feather River and the Sacramento River is transported to Southern California in the 444 mile California Aqueduct. The northern Sierra snowpack is currently just 70 percent of normal for the first week of February.

Northern Sierra Snowpack / February 4, 2020

Even though California experienced a dry January, Lake Oroville and other major reservoirs in California are at or above their historical average for the first week of February. This is due in large part to the storms that hit the state in November and December.

Reservoir Conditions / February 4, 2020

Lake Cuyamaca

The historical average for October through January rainfall at Lake Cuyamaca is 14.28 inches. This year, over that same four months, we received 13.02 inches. So, despite dry conditions in January, we are only one inch below average.

 

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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.”