Storing, treating and delivering water over a 50 square mile area, up every street, to every home, requires an immense system and continuous maintenance.

Two Helix operations employees installing a new valve on a water main.

How We Deliver Water

The most efficient way to deliver water is to let gravity do it for you. About 40 percent of Helix customers live at elevations low enough that we can deliver water to them directly from our treatment plant in Lakeside or from Grossmont Reservoir in La Mesa. For our other customers, we pump water up to reservoir tanks on hilltops, and let gravity deliver it from there. We spend over $2 million per year on energy, and most of it is used for pumping.

Photo: Los Coches Pump Station

Our Infrastructure




Regional Treatment


Pump Stations


Reservoir Tanks


Miles of Pipe




Fire Hydrants


Water Meters

The Infrastructure Cycle

Every pump, tank, pipe, valve, hydrant and meter in our infrastructure is on a cycle — decades of operation and maintenance, and then planning, designing and installing its replacement. Our goal is to extend the operations phase of the cycle as long as possible through regular and preventive maintenance. The cycle varies — pipe can last 100 years, valves 50 to 75 years and meters 20 years — and each item was installed at a different time. Tracking cycles and managing the replacement phase is an enormous task.

Our Field Operations Staff

Our field operations crews work throughout our service area every day — and sometimes throughout the night — installing new service lines, maintaining valves and hydrants, replacing pipe and making emergency repairs. Working on pipe requires coordination with cities and other utilities and hours of excavation. When repairs are completed, crews must restore and test water quality, backfill and repave the street.

Our Engineers

Our engineering department manages every aspect of infrastructure replacement — what we call capital improvement projects — from planning and design to construction management and inspection. We budget about $15 million annually for capital improvement projects, and our engineers prioritize and schedule projects decades in advance to manage risk and ensure that funding is available.

Take a look at our capital improvement master plan. You’ll see how many projects we completed, and how many lie ahead.


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