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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