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The Nieves family's landscape makeover project won the Sweetwater Authority's contest in 2019. Photo: Sweetwater Authority 2020 landscape makeover

2020 Landscape Makeover Competition Opens Call For Entries

Fourteen water agencies in San Diego County seek the best in landscaping makeover projects for the regional WaterSmart 2020 Landscape Makeover competition. The annual contest offers the opportunity to showcase residential waterwise landscaping as a way to inspire other homeowners to consider replacing water-guzzling turf based designs.

The contest deadline for all participating agencies is April 27. Homeowners may submit their entry online. You must be a resident within agency boundaries to participate. Each agency winner receives a $250 gift certificate and recognition on the agency website and social media channels.

Deborah Brandt's winning landscape includes contrasting elements, such a cactus, river rock and wood chips, against a backdrop of dramatic magenta, purple and striking orange. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Deborah Brandt’s 2019 winning landscape for the Vista Irrigation District includes contrasting elements, such as cactus, river rock and wood chips, against a backdrop of dramatic magenta, purple and striking orange. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Participating agencies include California American Water, the cities of Escondido, Oceanside, and San Diego, Fallbrook Public Utility District, Helix Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Rincon Del Diablo Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District, and Vista Irrigation District.

“With rebates available for turf removal, now is a great time to replace your lawn with a beautiful WaterSmart landscape,” said Brent Reyes, water conservation specialist for the Vista Irrigation District.

Turf removal saves estimated 36 million gallons annually

La Mesa residents Bob and Shan Cissell transformed 2,500 square feet of turf into their own Conservation Garden in La Mesa, winning the 2019 Oty Water District Landscaping Contest. Photo: Otay Water District

La Mesa residents Bob and Shan Cissell transformed 2,500 square feet of turf into their own conservation garden in La Mesa, winning the 2019 Otay Water District Landscaping Contest. Photo: Otay Water District

With a majority of residential water use in San Diego County attributed to watering landscapes, regional water efficiency efforts focus on outdoor water use.  By showcasing their beautiful landscape in the WaterSmart Landscape Contest, homeowners can offer ideas and demonstrate how waterwise landscaping can be attractive as well.

Thanks to ongoing education and incentives, San Diego County residents have targeted more than one million square feet of turf grass for replacement with WaterSmart landscaping through free landscape makeover classes sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority between 2013 and 2018. The Water Authority has documented an estimated savings of 33 million gallons annually,

Online landscape makeover tips available

If you need some inspiration or guidance, WaterSmartSD offers landscape makeover videos you can view on demand. This series of videos mirrors the content of the in-person workshops and four-class series. Each video takes you step-by-step through the process of creating your own beautiful, water-efficient landscape.

From measuring your property to getting to know your soil to picking the right plants for the right place, these entertaining and informative videos will guide you along the path to a WaterSmart landscape.

In addition, WaterSmartSD provides a list of online resources and guides to planning your landscape design project, soil analysis, compost and mulch, plant choices, and irrigation.

For additional information on 2020 Landscape Makeover Contest entry rules, go to WaterSmartLandscapes.

Click on the gallery below for more 2020 landscape makeover inspiration from past winners.

 

 

Helix Water District to Suspend Water Turnoffs for Late Payments

Residents and businesses in the Helix Water District service area unable to pay their water bills due to the coronavirus will not be penalized or have their water shut off.

The five-member Helix governing board voted unanimously on March 20 to waive late fees for residents and businesses during this time as well.

The district said that customers will continue to receive uninterrupted water service while California’s statewide stay-at-home order is in effect. Californians are required to stay home unless they need to maintain the operation of critical infrastructure, which includes water systems, due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ten High School Photographers Honored by Helix Water District

Ten East County high school students were honored for their winning photos in the 2020 Helix Water District High School Photo Contest. The winning photographers were recognized at the February 26 board of directors meeting.

This year’s photo contest challenged high school photographers to highlight the importance and beauty of water in our everyday lives. Entrants were asked to show how water is used in homes and landscapes, in local businesses, for irrigating public spaces and parks, producing the goods we use and foods we eat, street cleaning, and firefighting.

Grossmont High School senior Avery McFedries won first place in the Color category. Photo: Helix Water District

Ten High School Photographers Honored by Helix Water District

Ten East County high school students were honored for their winning photos in the 2020 Helix Water District High School Photo Contest. The winning photographers were recognized at the February 26 board of directors meeting.

This year’s photo contest challenged high school photographers to highlight the importance and beauty of water in our everyday lives. Entrants were asked to show how water is used in homes and landscapes, in local businesses, for irrigating public spaces and parks, producing the goods we use and foods we eat, street cleaning, and firefighting.

Water flows through everything we do. Indoors, we use water for drinking, washing, cooking, and cleaning. Outdoors, we use water to fill our swimming pools, wash our cars and grow plants in our yards.

High school students living or attending school within Helix’s service area were eligible to enter, which includes La Mesa, Lemon Grove, El Cajon, Spring Valley, and areas of Lakeside. Sixty-nine students from three schools entered the annual competition.

First-place winners received a $150 cash prize; second place received $100; honorable mention received  $50.

The 2020 Helix Water District High School Photo Contest winners are:

Black & White Category

First Place – Rylee Koval, Santana High School, Grade 10

First Place – Rylee Koval, Santana High School, Grade 10

First Place – Rylee Koval, Santana High School, Grade 10

Second Place – Faith Farrell, Santana High School, Grade 12

Second Place – Faith Farrell, Santana High School, Grade 12

Second Place – Faith Farrell, Santana High School, Grade 12

Third Place – Bri Massaro, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Third Place – Bri Massaro, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Third Place – Bri Massaro, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Faith Rowe, Santana High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Faith Rowe, Santana High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Faith Rowe, Santana High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Mirna Dawood, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Mirna Dawood, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Mirna Dawood, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Color Category

First Place – Avery McFedries, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

First Place – Avery McFedries, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

First Place – Avery McFedries, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Second Place – Emily McCann, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Second Place – Emily McCann, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Second Place – Emily McCann, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Third Place – Fernando Lara, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Third Place – Fernando Lara, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Third Place – Fernando Lara, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Honorable Mention – Jaqueline Aguilar, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Honorable Mention – Jaqueline Aguilar, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Honorable Mention – Jaqueline Aguilar, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Honorable Mention – Daneca Perez Opinion, Grossmont High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention – Daneca Perez Opinion, Grossmont High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention – Daneca Perez Opinion, Grossmont High School, Grade 11

The winning photos will be on display through May at the district’s administration office at 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa. The photos are also posted on the district’s Facebook page.

READ MORE: Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve 2019 Photo Contest Winners Inspired By Nature

 

Lake Jennings Hosts Kids Fishing Day

Hundreds of pounds of rainbow trout were biting for participants on Saturday during the sixth annual Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings in Lakeside.

The event started in 2015 has been an annual highlight ever since its inception. Kids ages 9 and under fished for free all day Saturday at the Kids Pond, which is a 20-by 20-foot cube within the lake.

Recreation Manager Kira Haley says Lake Jennings was stocked with 2,000 pounds rainbow trout from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho the week of February 3. Eight hundred pounds went directly into the Kids Pond, which is then attached to the floating accessible fishing dock.

Two of the many happy Kids Fishing Day participants show off their catches. Photo: Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings Hosts Kids Fishing Day

Hundreds of pounds of rainbow trout were biting for participants on Saturday during the sixth annual Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings in Lakeside.

The event started in 2015 has been an annual highlight ever since its inception. Kids ages 9 and under fished for free all day Saturday at the Kids Pond, which is a 20-by 20-foot cube within the lake.

Recreation Manager Kira Haley says Lake Jennings was stocked with 2,000 pounds rainbow trout from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho the week of February 3. Eight hundred pounds went directly into the Kids Pond, which is then attached to the floating accessible fishing dock.

“Kids don’t remember their best day in front of the television, but they remember the first day they caught a fish with a proud parent cheering them on,” said Haley.

Two hundred kids got to catch and take home a trout. Haley says kids as young as two years old participated with a little adult help, including volunteers from the Lakeside Optimist Club, who helped prepare the fishing rods for the kids. Bait choices included nightcrawlers, cheese, white power worms, and mealworms.

Lake Jennings home to trout, catfish, bass, bluegill and sunfish

Getting your hands a little slimy is part of fun at Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings. Photo: Lake Jennings

Getting your hands a little slimy is part of fun at Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings. Photo: Lake Jennings

Operated by the Helix Water District, Lake Jennings stocks 20,000 pounds of trout annually on a biweekly schedule between November and April when water temperatures are cool enough for trout to survive and 10,000 pounds of catfish in the warmer summer months.

In addition, large-mouth bass, red-ear sunfish and bluegill, as well as channel and blue catfish live in Lake Jennings. Sign up for the Lake Jennings Fish Report online to see what fish are biting.

Recreational fishing is the second most popular leisure activity in the U.S., second only to running. While the majority of avid fishermen and women are over 45, approximately 11.25 million youth ages six to 17 participate in fishing in the U.S. annually

History of Helix Water District on Tap Jan. 25

More than 130 years of local history will be shared as part of the Helix Water District’s behind-the-scenes “Water Talk” this month.

Helix customers will hear from the jurisdiction’s personnel how the need for a robust water infrastructure played in the development of East County and how the water district was formed in 1889 to meet that need.

Sweetwater Authority General Manager Gets Raise

The Sweetwater Authority governing board last week approved a 2 percent raise for General Manager Tish Berge.

The raise sets Berge’s annual salary at $231,000, retroactive to July. It marks her second raise since she was hired in June 2017 to manage Sweetwater, which serves 190,000 customers in National City, Bonita and a large portion of Chula Vista.

Board chairman Steve Castaneda said the raise, which matches a 2 percent raise given to employees, represents a cost-of-living adjustment.

Helix Water District Taking Entries for High School Scholarship and Photo Contests

The Helix Water District has launched two contests for high school students in the East County district’s service area and both contests have a payoff.

The 2020 High School Photo Contest “Water in Everyday Life” offers $150 to the winner, $100 for second place and $50 for third place in both color and black & white categories.

Helix Water District Board Approves Fee Hikes, Other Changes

It will cost more next year to fish, rent boats and camp at Lake Jennings Park, the reservoir and outdoors destination in Lakeside overseen by the Helix Water District.

The hikes were approved unanimously by the Helix Water District board and will become effective Jan. 1.

The daily and annual entrance fees to the lake will remain the same ($2 and $50, respectively) but costs for fishing will be bumped from $9 to $10 for adults, $8 to $9 for seniors and $4 to $5 for children 8 to 15.