Last week we hosted a live Water Chat on Facebook all about rebates and how they can help you save water and money.

We discussed which rebates pay and how to use them to get huge discounts on water-efficient devices. We also shared what products are out on the market to make life and saving water easier.

It’s not too late – watch the presentation below so you can take advantage of the many rebates available and start saving today. And don’t forget to follow our Facebook page for future events and information.

Video Transcript

Good evening, everyone. My name is Mike Uhrhammer. I’m part of the three-person team here at Helix Water District that is responsible for communications, legislative affairs, and water conservation. I’m gonna spend a few minutes this evening telling you a little bit about Helix and then I’m going to turn it over to Vince Dambrose who’s going to tell you about our rebate program. We have a question and answer period afterwards and if you have questions during the presentation, type them in the comments box on our Facebook page and we’ll keep track of those and make sure that we answer those during the Q and A. 

So, Helix is a local government agency, a special district, formed by residents all the way back in 1913 to build a water pipeline. Today, we serve over 277 277 thousand people in the cities of Lemon Grove, La Mesa, and El Cajon, the Spring Valley community, and unincorporated areas of the county. We’re governed by A five-member board who was elected by to four-year terms by the communities they live in and this makes us an accountable form of government.

Our job is to keep the water on. All week, all night, and all weekend. and that’s because from the beginning of your day to the end, if you really think about it, every service, every product, every job, you depend on, depends on water. It’s a big responsibility and we have large systems to make that water available. We operate two dams and reservoirs, a treatment plant over in Lakeside that serves not just our customers but also three neighboring water agencies and we deliver water through 700 739 miles of pipeline. 

We are, of course, back in drought conditions this year, both in the Colorado River Basin, and up in Northern California And it’s these record high temperatures that are making this drought more severe. And that’s what’s behind the massive wildfires that have hit the state this summer, agricultural losses, and the warm water temperatures in our rivers that is really taking a heavy toll on California’s salmon population. but we’re not really feeling the impact of the drought here in the San Diego region. And that’s because 30 years ago, all of the water providers here in the region decided to collaborate and invest in the development of a diversified portfolio of what a resources to make us less vulnerable in years like this one and it’s working. We just all submitted our twenty-five-year water supply and demand plans to the state of California and we have water we need through at least twenty forty-five. And I wanna highlight just a few of the aspects of this diversified diversification plan. So, back in 2,000 three, Imperial Irrigation District agreed to sell to the San Diego County Water Authority, 200 200 thousand acre feet of water per year. That would have been used for farming. 200 thousand acre feet of water per year is enough for 600 thousand to 800 thousand homes here in the San Diego region. So, this was really the first step in our plan. 

This is a picture of all the reverse osmosis canisters at the Carlsbad desalination plant. Plant was completed in 2015 and every day, it produces 50 million gallons a day of drought-proof drinking water supply. And a few years from now in twenty twenty-five, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program will come online. This is a partnership between Pottery Dam Water District, Helix , the City of El Cajon, and the county to turn recycled water into highly purified drinking water. We’ve been using recycled water for over 50 years. But we’ve reached a price point now in the cost of water that it’s an efficient and effective method to use reverse osmosis and microfiltration to create another drought proof water supply. In addition to this project, City of San Diego, Oceanside, and Escondido are also developing this type of project.

So, the other investment we made was in water conservation and over the last thirty years, uh with our programs, in our rebates , and everything we’re gonna talk about tonight, all of you who have participated, have saved over 1 million acre feet of water and that’s huge because that’s 1 million acre feet of new water resources that we do not have to develop. and Helix customers have done especially well and we wanna thank you. You have reduced your water use from 171 gallons per person per day back in nineteen ninety. To under 100 today. This is a picture of everyone at the Water Conservation Garden. At their Spring Festival. I wish I could say we were doing this well in all parts of California but we’re not And that is why the governor uh declared a drought emergency this summer and is asking us all to save another 15% off of our water use. And then that spirit, that was really the spirit behind uh, tonight’s presentation. We thought it was a good time to share with you, uh, bring to your attention again, our water conservation programs. So with that, I’m gonna turn it over to Vince Dambrose and he’ll tell you about our rebates. 

Thanks a lot, Mike. Hi, everybody. My name is Vince Dambrose. I’m with Helix Water District’s Public Affairs Team. Today, I’m gonna talk about rebates because rebates are fun for everybody but they’re also ways of giving you uh information on new products their incentives to get you to become an early adopter on new products that help you save water and make saving water easier for you. And as Mike had mentioned, rebates are ways that uh it it develops a new water supply. Our water conservation and water efficiency methods are some of the cheapest forms of developing new water supplies. So they help you, They help us. Let’s dive in and talk about some rebates .

So, tonight, we’ll talk about some rebates that are inside the home um and out that you can use around the home. We’ll talk about rebates that are for your outdoor landscape and this accounts for over half of our water use. So, there’s quite a bit over there too and then, we’ll also talk about some of the free services that are available for Helix Water District customers. Now, before we get into it, there’s a couple things you should know about rebates . The first is is that it’s has predefined funding. So, the rebates are first come, first serve. Uh the second is that the rebates are for qualifying models. So, on uh there’s a website I’ll talk about shortly on SoCal WaterSmart dot com. We’ll have a list of the qualifying models that will let you see what rebates are available and the third is that um the rebates will provide funding for um the device. So, it’s either the rebate or the price of the device whichever is less. so you won’t get more than the price of the device.

Um and so the way that the rebates work is that you’ll apply for the rebate and submit it with um uh a receipt. So those are some things to just keep in mind uh about the rebates before we  start going into this. Uh this if you’re curious about rebates we have them listed on our website. If you click on the sustainability tab, there’s a section that says rebates and then it’ll take you to our rebates page where you can scroll through and see the different rebates that we have available. Um if you see one that you like, click on it and it’ll take you to a web page called SoCal WaterSmart dot com. This is where you’ll apply for your rebates um and you can get a good overview of all the different products that are available.

So, when we mention something tonight, um this is this is where you’ll go to find information about those rebates . Now, the other thing is that this website has is a great tool. I know some of you watching tonight may not be Helix Water District customers but you live in Southern California um and you’re still a part of SoCal Water Smart’s Rebate program. So, if you’re curious on how much money you can get for a device, they have this great tool called estimate my rebate. It’s over on the side of the web page and you can type in your zip code and I’ll let you know how much money you can get for these products cuz every water agency is just a little bit different um but this will help clear it up and it’ll let you know if the money is available or how much you can get

Um so, let’s start talking about some rebates and one of the new ones that have just hit the market, we’re talking about something that can go and measure and monitor your water use in real time. Now, we have had this program for about 2 years but SoCal WaterSmart just took it over and it is great. It can give you alerts about your water use um and give you the security to um catch leaks and breaks before they show up on your water bill. So, uh we’ve created a video that will give overview. So, I’m gonna hop on screen and talk about this right now. Today, we’re gonna talk about something new. This is a flow monitoring device and through SoCal Water Smart, you can get $100 rebate on these devices. Now, there’s lots of different models available but this particular one will strap over your water meter and then sync up to your home’s WiFi. The device will tell you if you have high use or if you have a leak. So, you can make repairs, prevent damage, and avoid a costly water bill. Installation is easy. You just need to connect it to your Wi-Fi and strap it over your water meter. Once at your fingertips. For a list of qualifying devices and to apply for your rebate, go to SoCal Watersmart dot com. 

As you saw, there’s um this awesome product that can tell you how much water you’re using in real time. The one I showed on the screen is is uh this product right here. It just straps over your water meter um and we’ll give you information. There’s, of course, other products too. Um so, outside of the one that goes over the water meter, there’s one that attaches to your private property and I’m holding that one here. This one attaches, if this is a pipe, it’ll just attach on the pipe. There’s other ones that install in the pipe. You have to have plumbed. Um this one just straps over it. Um But all the devices of these these flow monitoring devices will give you real time information about your water use. So you can catch leaks. And we know that leaks can be expensive. And some of these devices are only about 150 to 200 dollars. There’s $100 rebate on them. Um so preventing a leak uh can you can really save some money uh with these devices. Uh they’ll let you know if your irrigation is is using more water than it should. Or if you have a leak like a running toilet.

And speaking of toilets, there’s rebates on ultra high-efficiency toilets. Now, these are toilets that use less uh than 1.2 gallons per flush. I know that sounds like a little bit but trust me, these things are much more powerful than the old 1.6 ones uh that we’re releasing the early 2000s and so, there’s currently a $40 rebate on these toilets and that’s about 20% of the cost uh of a toilet. So, if you want to upgrade, take advantage of the rebate. Um you’d $40 per toilet. You can really uh save water and also, you know, get some money back. Another product is the high efficiency clothes washers and when we wash clothes, it typically accounts for about 20% of the indoor water use. So, it’s a it’s a pretty big part of our indoor water use but I completely understand a new washer is expensive. Um and there’s currently a rebate for $85 but uh if you really have an old washing machine and you wanna upgrade, take advantage of the rebate. The $85 will help you and the other thing that’s nice about these products too is because they use less water, that’s also less hot water which means that’s less energy. So, you get a water savings and an energy savings from these and so, if you’re looking to upgrade, take advantage of the rebate on on clothes washers.

That’s about it on the indoor. Uh I’m gonna talk now about the outdoor and landscape and like I said, this accounts for over half of our water use especially during the hot summer months or uh like right around now. The first one is a smart irrigation controller and these are um more advanced than the typical irrigation controllers we all use but what’s also great is that they’re easier to use. They’re just much more intuitive um than before and the rebate is for $200 on these devices and the way that these controller’s work is like this. Most of us have an irrigation clock that we turn on once it starts getting hot and then, we shut it off once it starts raining again and we repeat that over and over again. These clocks automatically adjust to the weather. So, as the season changes or it gets hotter, it’ll adjust or decrease um the watering times. What’s also great is it uses weather data to give real-time information about the weather. So, if it’s cool and cloudy. It can reduce water for that day. If it rains, it doesn’t water. If it’s too windy, it doesn’t water. Uh so, it helps you save water and the other thing that’s great about it is that it sinks up a lot of these sync up to your Wi-Fi. So, if you’re traveling or if you’re away or on vacation, you can make changes to your controller from anywhere in the world uh which is a lot more than your current clock can do. So, the rebate like I said is for $200 for smart irrigation controllers Most of the ones that our customers need are right around 160 dollars. So, that means you can get pretty much the cost of a controller um covered uh with the rebate.

Now, that’s how we how we control our timing of our water but then, there’s also how we water and that’s um through our sprinkler nozzles and there’s a rebate for more efficient sprinkler nozzles but I’m gonna play a video and hop on screen to show you exactly what these nozzles do and how they can help you save water. 

Today, I’m gonna talk about something that’s very easy to do. It can help you use less water and water your plants more evenly. These are high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles and right now, through SoCal Water Smart, you can get a four-dollar rebate on these nozzles when you buy more than thirty and replacing your existing nozzles with these is very easy to do. Most of us are still using the same sprinklers as we did 20 years ago. These conventional sprays put out fine droplets of water at a high flow rate. fine mist gets carried away by the wind and what reaches the ground comes down too fast and can cause runoff. High-efficiency spray nozzles can help you use up to 15% less water in each zone. They’re perfect for ground covers, grasses, and hillsides. These nozzles are better than your old sprays in two ways. They put out large droplets of water so they don’t get carried away in the wind and they apply even amounts of water slowly so that it doesn’t run off your soil. Converting is easy. just the right distance and angle nozzle, pull up the sprinkler riser, unscrew the existing nozzle, and screw the new high-efficiency nozzle back in. Then, turn on your system and adjust your new sprays. Once you install these nozzles, you’ll have to double or triple your run time because they take longer to apply the same amounts of water. Well, that’s it for now. To get a rebate, go to SoCal Watersmart dot com. 

So, like you saw, these nozzles are just much more efficient. They reduce runoff. They don’t blow away in the wind and they apply water very evenly. Uh they’re a great product and they’re very easy to upgrade to. So, if you have sprinkler nozzles and you have over thirty of them, this is a great rebate uh because it’s $4 per nozzle when you buy more than thirty and the nozzles cost about five to $8 each. So, you get a good portion of uh that upgrade covered uh through the rebate.

So, that is all about irrigation and improving how we water but another way to uh help reduce water is to get free water and there’s rebates right now on rain barrels. So, we’re approaching the rainy season and rain barrels and cisterns are a great way to capture the rainwater that comes off of our roof and down our downspouts and then put it into a tank so that we can put it on landscape at a later time. So, there’s a rebate of $35 per rain barrel for up to two. So, up to a $70 on a rain barrel and then, there are rebates on cisterns and cisterns are just bigger rain barrels. They can hold uh 300 to 500 gallons of water but because they’re bigger, there’s a bigger rebate and on a cistern, you can get up to 350 $350 on the rebate and I know 500 gallons sounds like a lot but a 500 square foot uh area of Ruth can get with we get ten inches of rain, uh that will get over 3,000 gallons of water a year. So, rain barrels, cisterns, regardless, they fill up quickly and it’s a great way to capture free water that comes from our roof and send it on down to our landscape when uh when the rain’s all done. 

But regardless of if we’re getting free water or improving how we water ultimately, our landscape determines how much water uh we have to put outdoors and different plants have different water requirements and grass is some of the thirstiest plants that is there and when we, that is why there’s rebates for changing out grass and upgrading to sustainable landscaping. Now, sustainable landscaping is uh a concept that involves a couple different things. That’s uh upgrading your irrigation system. That’s using mulch. Um three plants per hundred square feet And directing rainwater to the landscape. Uh all of which are pictured here in this landscape and especially if you have grass that we’re not walking on or uh using or letting uh kids play in and it’s just there. There’s other landscapes that that can save water and you get $3 per square foot. Um so, that’s quite a bit of money or just changing your landscape, giving your home a new look, a new feel, and um it’s it’s really a tremendous upgrade.

I will say though that this rebates just a little bit different than the other rebates . You have to get preapproved through SoCal Water Smart before you start the project uh and they do that because they wanna make sure that they can get the funding set aside for you but to show you what we is possible through the Turf Rebate, I’m gonna hop on screen again and we can check out and see what the rebate is all about. 

Foot for foot, grass uses more water in your landscape than any other plant. Grass can take up to sixty inches of water a year to irrigate. While grass is great for activities, most of us have lawns that we don’t really use or need. To save water and to get a landscape you’ll love. There’s a rebate of $3 a square foot when you replace this with sustainable landscaping. Let’s take a look. The rebate requires that you plant three plants per hundred square feet. Think three plants in a ten by ten room. It also requires that you capture rain water and upgrade your irrigation system to water efficiently. Finally, it requires that you use mulch. To reduce evaporation and total water use in your new landscape. The rebate is only for converted areas so it does not count grass that you convert to hardscape or artificial turf. If you have an unused lawn and wanna upgrade your landscaping, this is a great program for you. For more info please go to SoCal WaterSmart dot com.

 So the turf rebate can really transform your yard and can really give you uh a landscape that you don’t have to mow and really give a good appeal and A feel and a design that is all uniquely yours but we understand, it takes a lot of work um to do this but there’s resources that can help you throughout the way. The water Conservation Garden in Rancho, San Diego is a great resource that’s available, can give you all sorts of ideas and inspiration We also have a demonstration landscape here at our administration office um at 7811 University in La Mesa where you can walk around our building and you can see the different plants and then you can even download them uh so that you can get ideas for your home. There’s also if you wanna take a deeper dive, there’s free classes available through the San Diego County Water Authority and they can walk you through step by step what you need to know about tearing out your lawn upgrading it to a new landscape that you’ll love. So, there’s resources. We’ve got the for the conservation garden. Of course, HWD dot com, our website, and also Water Smart SD dot org. All great resources that can really help you uh throughout the entire uh process. Again, it’s $3 a square foot and um it and it’s a new, it’s AA new uh landscape for you.

Now, part of the sustainable landscaping is mulch And mulch is something a lot of customers have asked us about if where they can get it or if they can get a discount on it. And just this year we received funding to run a program. So now we have a rebate program. Just for Helix Water District customers For putting mulch in the yard. And to show you exactly what mulch does and how it works. I’m gonna hop on screen again and we can check out uh we’re gonna share this video with you so you can see what mulch is and why you need it in your landscape.

Today, we’re gonna talk about mulch and mulch is one of the greatest things that you can do for your yard. Mulch shades the soil from the sun and keeps your plants cool, happy, and helps them use less water. Plant-based mulches can do much more. They can retain moisture, prevent erosion, choke out weeds, add nutrients to the soil, and give your yard a nice, clean, tidy appearance. To install mulch, apply it in a layer that’s three to four inches deep and then, Make sure you pull it back away from the base of the plants by about four to five inches. Helix Water District received funding to run a rebate program for our customers. Customers who install a cubic yard or more of mulch can get up to $25 per cubic yard up to 100 dollars. Cubic Yard covers about 110 square feet of mulch. And we made applying for the rebate easy. Simply go to slash rebates . Fill out the application. Send us a copy of your receipt and three photos. That’s it. You can start saving water today. 

So, the Mulch Rebate program is something unique to Helix Water District customers. We’re happy to have it but I will say the funding is limited. So, if you want mulch, if you need it in your yard, apply for it, um get started soon so that you can take advantage of the rebate. When you buy mulch in bulk, uh for a cubic yard, it cost between, I’ve seen it go for $12 to about thirty dollars. So, the rebate really goes a long way. So, it definitely if you need to get mulch, get the rebate. We made the application easy. So, go to our, go make your purchase, spread it over your landscape, and then apply for that rebate because the rebate really, it it really pays out well, and you, it’s definitely a nice thing. If, if you don’t want the water savings, even just the fact that it chokes out weeds can really make your life a lot easier too. Um, but it does save water and it’s, it’s a really great thing to have in your landscape.

So, next, I’ll talk about some of the free services for Helix Water District customers and we offer a few things for free. The first of which is we offer up to three free shower heads for our customers. So, if you have an older shower head that uses four gallons a minute, we have these other shower heads. They use 1.75 gallons per minute. They’re efficient but I’ll tell you, I use them. They put out plenty of water. They feel great. Uh you’ll love them. So, if you need a shower head, come to our office. It’s on 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa. Um and we have them here for you.

We also have faucet aerators. And faucet aerators are the little devices that just screw into the bottom of the faucet. They help put out an even flow of water and make sure that you use your faucet is using the right amount of water. So if you need a faucet aerator, come to our office. We have them available.

Next is this other service called our water use evaluations. And when it comes to getting the right rebate or figuring out how to save water, I completely understand that every single property is different and unique. And the best way to figure out what will work best for you is for us to come out there, send a specialist to meet you, and give you site specific recommendations. We can give you a recommendations on how to water efficiently, you know, what resources to take of and also what rebates work best for you. So, if you’re really looking to save water, give us a call. Um you can go to our website. I’ll post my contact information shortly and we can get you set up on one of these but it’s a free service. Takes about an hour but the the water savings uh can really help you in the long run.

So, finally, we have one more program and this is not particular, this is not a Helix Water District program, but it is available for some of our customers, and we would be remiss if we didn’t share it with you, and so, what, the county of San Diego has basically added additional funding for four of the rebates I had mentioned earlier. That’s, high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles, weather-based irrigation controllers, turf removal, and even rainwater harvesting. So, they’ve upped the amount of the rebate um for customers who live in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. Um they’ve also added rebates that just don’t exist for um you know, SoCal Water Smart uh like Rainwater Harvesting, Permeable Paving, and even septic tank uh pumping. So, if you live in the county of San Diego, the I have not seen the rebates been this high. It’s a great time to um take advantage of what the county’s offering and to make some changes. 

Finally, just a recap of some of the rebates that are around. There’s rebates on the home and indoor. There’s rebates on the outdoor um and there’s also free services and water use efficiency is something we embrace as Californians and as you can see with all the different money that’s available for all these different rebates , there’s money on the table for you. Um there’s money to make it easier for you to use less water. There’s money available to your life easier when it comes to your water use. So, end by saying if you want to uh make a change, go to our website, dive into the rebates, um and and go to our website at HWD to learn more. Thank you guys for the this presentation. Uh my name is Vince. My contact information is here. If you have a question or anything, we’re always happy to help. Um so, feel free to Email us, call us, uh whatever. We’re happy to uh to to get you the water savings that you need. And with that, I’m gonna turn it over to um all of us and we’ll take some of the questions that we might have had from the audience. 

Thanks, Vince. Um one of the questions that came through is, an individual asking if there’s money for artificial turf?

So, there’s the money for artificial turf stopped in 2,014 and the way that the rebate is focused now is, it’s more about uh sustainable landscaping than just water saving. So, the new rebate focuses on cooling the ground, providing habitat, capturing rainwater, and having all these other benefits um outside of just water savings like artificial turf. So, there’s not a rebate on artific turf anymore.

Thanks, Vince. Um we also received a question asking if we could clarify about the rebate programs for rainwater harvesting since it seemed like they were available through a few different programs. Um yeah. So, the county of San Diego has a program for residents in the unincorporated county um and basically, what they’ve done is they’ve taken uh some of their own they’ve created some of their own programs which they have uh we’ll put the link for the county of San Diego’s website um but then, they’ve also So, um just ups the funding for what’s available for all customers through the SoCal Water Smart. So, um if you go to SoCal WaterSmart, there’s uh rebates on rain barrels and on cisterns um and then also the sustainable landscaping where, you know, that’s just part of the uh turf rebate but um the county has upped the funding for Mets programs as well as created their own.

Thank you. And we have another question from an individual who would like to remove their grass and is asking who they should hire? 

Gotcha and we get that question all the time. Um it we’re a public agency so we can’t make a specific recommendation to one business or the other. But what I can say is um make sure you hire someone who’s certified. Make sure you hire a professional. Uh it’ll help you in the long run. Um but the other thing is is that a lot of the parts of uh removing your grass can really be done DIY and there’s a lot of information uh through the San Diego County Water Authority um on their uh Water Smart SD website that can um give you a lot of resources to help reduce your cost. So, um maybe you don’t have to pay someone for the entire thing and there’s parts that you can do.

Great and we have one final question. Um can I get a more than one rebate for the same project? 

Oh, by all means, if you are like, if you’re taking out your grass and you need a new clock uh irrigation controller or you need upgrade either sprinklers and you also need to capture rainwater. Go to SoCal Watersmart. You can get a rebate on the Rain Barrels, the controllers, the new um irrigation uh nozzles. Um feel free to double dip. Um that’s it. Water savings is water savings and uh getting the those rebates is um definitely in your favor there. Thanks, Vince.

And that’s all the questions we’ve received tonight. So, I’ll turn it back over to you, Mike. 

Alright, thank you everybody for joining us tonight. If you have any follow up, um Vince gave you his contact information for our rebate programs. But please do also go to and uh we’ve got additional information there. So, thank you very much and everyone have a good evening.



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