Rates and fees

Helix is a not-for-profit, local government agency formed in 1913. Unlike other government, we are not funded by taxes. We charge fees to recover the cost of the services we provide, and state law prohibits us from collecting a penny more. 

What You Pay For

Video Transcript: Where Does My Money Go?

At Helix Water District, every dollar collected from customer bills, goes directly towards the costs of providing our customers with a clean and reliable source of water.

Let’s take a look at how those expenses break down.

Forty-three percent of each bill covers the cost of purchasing imported water. That’s just about half of every dollar that we spend.

Thirteen percent covers the operating and maintenance costs that keep our water delivery and treatment systems up and running.

Twelve percent funds capital projects such as pipeline replacements, tank retrofits and expenses to buy equipment.

Nine percent covers water treatment and quality control costs, which ensure your water is safe to drink.

Nine percent covers administrative expenses needed to run the district.

Three percent covers engineering costs. This allows the district to design and make improvements to our water treatment and delivery systems.

Three percent covers meter reading, billing and customer service expenses, so when you have a question or need some help, Helix is there for you.

Three percent pays for information technology, the computers and software behind our water systems, administration and customer service.  IT keeps us running.

Three percent covers energy costs to treat and pump water, and the electricity used to operate district facilities.

Two percent repays bonds and other debt.

And not one penny goes towards profits.  Helix is a not-for-profit agency.

For more details, visit hwd.com


Video Transcript: Understanding the Delivery System

We don’t necessarily understand or see the inner workings of water delivery from the source water to your tap. We all too often take that process for granted.

It’s more complicated than you actually might think.  Our water comes from several sources: 1) in the Colorado River; 2) up in northern California from the state water project; 3) from desalinated water in Carlsbad; and 4) we’re blessed here in the Helix Water District to have several reservoirs and a treatment plant.

We’re very fortunate in that we own Lake Cuyamaca up in the foothills in the Lagunas, and when we do get rain in the area, we take advantage of that.  We capture the water in Lake Cuyamaca, run it down into Lake El Capitan where we share rights with the city of San Diego, and from there we draw water into our treatment plant.

So when the water falls from the sky, we’re actually able to treat that water and put it through our distribution system through our pump stations, and our pipes, and our treatment systems right to your tap.  

The water delivery system is quite complex.  It starts from your raw water coming into the system through major transmission lines.  Those transmission lines feed into our treatment facility.  The water is treated to an incredibly high level that meets and or exceeds oftentimes, state and federal mandates.  From there it goes through a series of pump stations to feed up to pump water reservoirs or tanks, the stuff that you see in your community, the big steel structures, and then from there the water gravity feeds to the actual houses.  And I like to kind of compare that to somebody’s individual irrigation system where if we have a sprinkler system watering your plants, there’s a lot just involved in maintaining and repairing those things.  So this water system is on a much larger scale, 733 miles with a wide variety of materials.  So we have to be prepared to really respond, assess, maintain all of that in a moment’s notice.  It’s quite a complex process but we, we love what we do.

Our pipeline is distributed throughout the neighborhoods.  Our pump stations make sure those pipelines are always under pressure.  The tanks make sure we always have adequate supply and can and serve our customers, and every customer has a small pipeline that’s tapped to our mains in the streets.  So when you open your faucet you’re always receiving water, really from our tanks and distribution system.  

The Helix Water District is a, is a large agency.  We serve over 270,000 customers, you know through 56,000 connections.  We have a lot of infrastructure.  The infrastructure in today’s dollar amounts to about $1.6 billion.  We have over 700 miles of pipelines, 25 tanks, 25 pump stations, and about 56,000 services that we feed.

As public servants, our job is to make sure that your water is delivered.  As part of that goal, you never know we’re here and that means we’re doing a great job.

Video Transcript: System Upgrades

One of the things that is near and dear to our heart here at Helix is to make sure that our system is maintained on an annual basis.

If you don’t continually invest in the infrastructure, you end up within very aged infrastructure and service delivery can be interrupted.

It creates more emergencies where you’re reacting in a reactive state rather than in a controlled environment in a preventative maintenance state.

So that includes replacing our pipes. We have a pipe replacement program, whether it’s cast iron or other types of pipes in our system, that’s part of our annual capital improvement program. And then as  part of our operating improvement program we exercise and turn our valves, as well as maintaining and cleaning our tanks and our pump stations.

We’re constantly evaluating our tanks like the one behind me.  This tank was recently rehabilitated several years ago and the same with our pump stations, when they get old we replace them or rehabilitate them.

Obviously Helix Water District with long history has had a lot of improvements through technology and infrastructure over the years. One of those is our treatment plant process.

A treatment plant of this size is expensive. It’s a lot of infrastructure and it takes a lot of money and resources to keep it up and running. At Helix we’ve done extensive measures and evaluations to try to maintain operation and quality, while also implementing cost saving aspects.  Examples include the SCADA system that you see behind us.

Technology is critical in what we do, day in day out. As technology advances, we’re always looking to see how we can incorporate that to improve our efficiencies from an operational perspective that can in effect keep our staffing levels down and keep the costs at a minimum to provide drinking water to the customer.

Not only do we invest in our infrastructure, such as pipelines and tanks and pump stations, we also invest in technology to improve how we bill for water, how we complete our GIS, our mapping systems within the organization.

Our mission at Helix is always to provide our customers at a reasonable cost, however our track record of never having a violation of the operation of this facility demonstrates that we will not compromise quality for cost.

Video Transcript: Value of Service

Water is critical in everything that we do.

Water is life.  You can’t survive without it during times like the pandemic that we’re in now currently.  I think that our customers better understand the value of water, the essential need for that water.  Especially when they need to wash their hands, they need to bathe clean surfaces during this difficult time and that just goes to the fact that we need to focus our efforts even more on being more reliable and assuring the customers that we’re providing them a clean safe source of drinking water.

It is an essential building block of what supports us here.  It’s life-sustaining, it supports the economy not only in the big scheme of things in San Diego county but also supports the local economy.  It supports the family structure within the community.  You know, when I’m explaining this to my children it’s, you know, it’s important to recognize that every single drop of water they save ensures that in the future, when they turn on the faucet to brush their teeth or to take a shower, that there’s going to be water there and that matters.

You know I still don’t think people really fully appreciate the resource and how, how good you know a country like ours has it when it comes to water as a resource.  I mean truly it’s still under a penny a gallon.  You can buy a Starbucks you know, for three or four dollars.  A cup of water is delivered 24/7 to your tap for less than a penny a gallon.

So, I think all too often because we don’t necessarily understand or see the inner workings of water delivery from the source water to your tap, we all too often take that process for granted.  Or, if you really kind of thought about it each and every day how often you touch water, it’s absolutely a vital resource.

I think you could probably get by without power.  But, if you turn your water off for 24 hours, you would really feel the difference when you turn on your tap.

As a customer of Helix Water District, you know it’s going to be safe, it’s going to be there 24/7, and it’s going to be clean and it’s going to taste great.

Water Rates

The rates shown below were approved by the Board of Directors on April 28, 2021 and will apply to water use on or after May 1, 2021 and  May 1, 2022.

Review Cost of Service Study on which our rates are based

See presentation from April 8 community meeting

Use our calculator to estimate your water bill

Fixed charge

The bimonthly fixed charge covers costs that do not change based on the amount of water used, such as capital projects, transmission, distribution, meters and service. The fee is prorated on a daily basis on a customer’s first and final bills.

Meter SizeCurrent ChargeEffective 5/1/21Effective 5/2/22
1. 5"$131.97$161.15$170.02

Variable charge

The variable charge is a unit charge for the amount of water used. One unit equals 748 gallons of water. The variable charge covers expenses such as purchased water, treatment, pumping and other costs that connect directly to the amount of water used. Helix uses a tiered rate structure for Single-Family Residential customers that charges a higher rate to those who use more water, ensuring that higher costs associated with increased water use are paid for by those consuming the most water. Irrigation customers are also charged a higher rate when they exceed their budget to pay for the increased cost of providing their water.

Customer ClassCurrent Charge Per UnitEffective 5/1/21Effective 5/1/22
Single-Family Residential
Current TiersApproved Tiers
0-14 units0-12 units$4.98$5.27$5.56
15-34 units13-26 units$5.82$5.60$5.91
35+ units27+ units$7.24$7.10$7.50
Multi-Family Residential$5.64$5.60$5.91
Irrigation: up to 100% of Budget$5.82$5.95$6.28
Irrigation: 101%+ of Budget$7.24$7.04$7.43

Dedicated fire line charge

The bimonthly dedicated fire line charge is a fixed charge that covers the cost of providing
water system fire flow capacity and maintenance. These charges only apply to properties on
which a fire service lateral has been installed.

Lateral SizeCurrent ChargeEffective 5/1/21Effective 5/2/22

Service charges

Returned Payment$36
Service Call$28
Same Day Service Call$51
48 Hour Notice$16
Meter Shutoff$28
Meter Unlock$28
After Hours Meter Unlock$147
Meter Reinstatement$122
Backflow Noncompliance Shutoff$155
Metered, Unauthorized Water Use$159


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