We store, treat and deliver water to every home over a 50 square mile area. This takes a huge system with constant maintenance.
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
Miles of Pipe
The Infrastructure Cycle
Every pump, tank, pipe, valve, hydrant and meter in our infrastructure is on a cycle. These cycles consist of decades of operation and maintenance, and then planning, designing and installing replacements. Our goal is to extend the operations phase of the cycle as long as possible through regular and preventive maintenance. The cycle varies as pipe can last 100 years, valves 50 to 75 years and meters 20 years. On top of that, we installed each item 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. They install new service lines, maintain valves and hydrants, replace pipe and make emergency repairs. Working on pipe requires coordination with cities and other utilities. Excavation also takes hours. When we complete repairs, crews must restore and test water quality, backfill and repave the street.
Our engineering department manages every aspect of infrastructure replacement. They handle planning and design, construction management and inspection. We call these replacement jobs “capital improvement projects”. We budget about $15 million annually for capital improvement projects. 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.