Helix and the San Diego region enjoy water security because the water utilities here work together to develop water supply.
Helix Water Supply
State Water Project
How We Collaborate
The San Diego County Water Authority was formed in 1944 to import water into the region from the Colorado River and Northern California. When Helix customers pay their water bills, Helix pays the Water Authority for the imported water they used. This is how it works for all 24 water utilities serving the region.
All 24 utilities meet at the Water Authority to analyze and debate how to use the money paid to the Water Authority to invest in new water supplies. The Water Authority's board of directors meets monthly and is made up of elected board members from each utility. The general managers and water conservation staff from each utility also collaborate monthly.
By pooling our money over the last 25 years, we invested over $3 billion and developed projects no single utility could afford on its own.
Our 4-Step Plan for Water Security
Step 1: Water Conservation
We show residents and businesses how to reduce their water bills by installing water-efficient plumbing fixtures, appliances, landscapes and irrigation, and offered rebates to increase participation. Today, San Diego County residents use half the water they used in the 1990s.
Step 2: Senior Water Rights
In 2003, the Imperial Irrigation District entered into an agreement to sell up to 200,000 acre-feet of water annually to the San Diego region. Imperial Irrigation District has the most senior water rights on the Colorado River and this will help to protect San Diego’s water supply.
Step 3: Desalination and Potable Reuse
In 2014, the Water Authority completed the Carlsbad Desalination Plant to turn Pacific Ocean water – an endless, drought-proof water supply -- into drinking water. Now, we’re focused on turning recycled water into drinking water by using reverse osmosis, just like at the Carlsbad plant, and advanced water treatment technology. By 2045, potable reuse will provide almost 20% of the San Diego region’s water supply.
Step 4: Regional Water Storage
The more water we can store during a wet year, when a lot of rain and snow falls on California and the Colorado River Basin, the more water we have available in a dry year. With the construction of Olivenhain Dam and the raising of San Vicente Dam, we have an additional six-month water supply just for the San Diego region.