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Helix Water District Names Brian Olney New General Manager

The Helix Water District Board of Directors appointed Brian Olney as the organization’s new general manager, effective September 1, 2022. Olney was previously the Assistant General Manager and before that, the water district’s Director of Water Quality and System Operations.  He has 28 years of experience in the water industry.

The Helix Water District is the San Diego region’s second largest water utility, after the City of San Diego. Its service area includes La Mesa, Lemon Grove, El Cajon, Spring Valley, and other unincorporated areas of the county, with a population of 277,000. Brian Olney

Helix Water District Names Brian Olney New General Manager

The Helix Water District Board of Directors appointed Brian Olney as the organization’s new general manager, effective September 1, 2022. Olney was previously the Assistant General Manager and before that, the water district’s Director of Water Quality and System Operations.  He has 28 years of experience in the water industry.

“Brian’s experience spans system operations, water treatment plant operations and maintenance, water distribution and construction,” said Helix Board President Kathleen Coates Hedberg. “He’s been a member of the executive team since 2016, and he is knowledgeable about local and regional water issues. Brian is a leader and will make a smooth transition into the general manager role.”

“I am honored to be the next general manager of Helix Water District,” said Olney. “We provide an essential service to hardworking people, who expect us to do our jobs correctly and efficiently and provide clean, safe water at a reasonable price. I agree with that, and we meet and exceed those expectations every day.”

Summer job leads to water industry career

Brian Olney has been named General Manager of Helix Water District, effective Sept. 1, 2022. Photo: Helix Water District

Brian Olney named General Manager of Helix Water District, effective Sept. 1, 2022. Photo: Helix Water District

Olney, a native San Diegan, grew up in East San Diego County, and now lives in Santee with his wife, Brenda. He earned an associate’s degree in water science technology and is a graduate of San Diego State University, where he earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in public administration.

A summer construction job introduced Olney to a career in the water industry.

“I quickly realized how rewarding it was and embraced the public service aspect. It is truly enjoyable to meet customers and explain what we do or help them through an issue,” said Olney.

Olney worked in field operations for Lakeside Water District and as a water system operator for Otay Water District before joining Helix in 2000 as a water treatment plant operator. Olney maintains Grade 5 certifications from the California State Water Resources Board in water treatment and water distribution, the highest level of certification with ongoing education requirements.

Olney will oversee second largest water utility in San Diego County

Serving 277,000 customers, the Helix Water District maintains 16,892 valves and 56,504 water meters. Photo: Helix Water District Brian Olney

Serving 277,000 customers, the Helix Water District maintains 16,892 valves and 56,504 water meters. Photo: Helix Water District

The Helix Water District is the San Diego region’s second largest water utility, after the City of San Diego. Its service area includes La Mesa, Lemon Grove, El Cajon, Spring Valley, and other unincorporated areas of the county, with a population of 277,000. The Helix regional treatment plant also supplies water to Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, and Lakeside Water District in addition to its own customers, a total population of 500,000. Olney will oversee 150 employees and manage the FY2022-23 budget of $108 million.

“We are fortunate at Helix,” said Olney. “The board of directors are actively involved in the community and serve the district and our customers very well. Our employees are qualified, compassionate, and dedicated. I will continue to reinforce our values, and our goals and objectives, and we will work through the challenges we face.”

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Lakeside Water District and Padre Dam Municipal Water District are four of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Helix Water District Logo Square officers for 2021

Helix Recognized For Openness and Accessibility

La Mesa, Calif. – The Special District Leadership Foundation has announced that Helix Water District is the recipient of the District Transparency Certificate of Excellence in recognition of the district’s outstanding efforts to promote transparency and good governance. The district has consistently received this award since 2015.

“This award demonstrates the commitment of our board and staff to open government and accountability to the people and communities we serve,” said Helix General Manager Carlos Lugo. “We are very proud of what we have done to empower the public and facilitate engagement with our customers.”

 

Helix Water District Recognized for Excellence in Financial Reporting

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recently announced that Helix Water District is the recipient of a distinguished budget presentation award for its fiscal year 2022-23 budget document.

“This award shows the commitment by the district’s board of directors and staff to serving the public with integrity, fiscal accountability, and transparency,” said Kathleen Hedberg, Helix Water District’s board president. “Our budget is well organized and easy to read. We want customers to easily see what we are doing, how we are efficient and how we keep our operating costs steady.”

Helix Water District Logo Square officers for 2021

Helix Recognized for Excellence in Financial Reporting

La Mesa, Calif. – The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)  announced today that Helix Water District is the recipient of a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for our fiscal year 2022-23 budget document.

“This award shows the commitment by the district’s board of directors and staff to serving the public with integrity, fiscal accountability, and transparency.” Said Kathleen Hedberg, Helix Water District’s Board President. “Our budget is well organized and easy to read. We want customers to easily see what we are doing, how we are efficient, and how we keep our operating costs steady.”

AWP Proceeds With Effort to Take San Diego’s Pump Station

The agency managing the East County Advanced Water Purification program took another step toward legally confiscating a sewage pumping station that now belongs to the city of San Diego.

Earlier this month, the Joint Powers Authority for AWP filed a complaint in San Diego Superior Court asking the court to grant the JPA eminent domain rights for the station, located at the western border of Santee, on Mission Gorge Road next to the west-bound ramp for SR 52.

Lake Jennings 2022 Spring Photo Contest Winners Depict Lake Activities

Sunsets, wildlife, and family fun inspired the winning photos in the 2022 Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest, held by the Helix Water District. Winners were named this week and recognized at the June Governing Board meeting.

First Place winner: John Wozny, “Casting A Sunset.” Photo: Helix Water District Lake Jennings 2022

Lake Jennings 2022 Spring Photo Contest Winners Depict Lake Activities

Sunsets, wildlife, and family fun inspired the winning photos in the 2022 Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest, held by the Helix Water District. Winners were named this week and recognized at the June Governing Board meeting.

The water district offers two yearly contests to connect with their customers and recognize their achievements.

Now in its 11th year, the contest drew 47 entries from throughout San Diego County. This year’s entries highlighted the unique beauty of camping, fishing, hiking, spotting wildlife, and enjoying the view at Lake Jennings. The contest was open for photos taken between March 1 and May 31, 2022. The following photographers took top honors.

2022 Spring Photo Contest Adult Category

First Place winner: John Wozny, “Casting A Sunset.” Photo: Helix Water District Lake Jennings 2022

First Place: John Wozny, “Casting A Sunset.” Photo: Helix Water District

 

Second Place winner: Crystian Baird, “No Shoes, No Problem.” Photo: Helix Water District Lake Jennings 2022

Second Place: Crystian Baird, “No Shoes, No Problem.” Photo: Helix Water District

 

Third Place winner: John Wozny, “The Eagle Has Landed.” Photo: Helix Water District Lake Jennings 2022

Third Place: John Wozny, “The Eagle Has Landed.” Photo: Helix Water District

2022 Spring Photo Contest Youth Category

First Place winner: Lucas Sides, “Lunch.” Photo: Helix Water District

First Place: Lucas Sides, “Lunch.” Photo: Helix Water District

 

Second Place winner: Lucas Sides, “A Day At The Lake.” Photo: Helix Water District

Second Place: Lucas Sides, “A Day At The Lake.” Photo: Helix Water District

Third Place winner: Lydia McQuiddy, “Blue Sky Day.” Photo: Helix Water District

Third Place: Lydia McQuiddy, “Blue Sky Day.” Photo: Helix Water District

The winning photos are also available on Lake Jennings’ Facebook page and the District’s website.

Scenic community resource for six decades

Lake Jennings is among San Diego County’s most scenic parks. The lake is a drinking water reservoir in Lakeside, California, owned and operated by Helix Water District.

Lake Jennings is named for William H. Jennings, an attorney who grew up on his family farm in Lakeside. He served as San Diego County Water Authority general counsel for 26 years and served on the California Water Commission. Jennings played a significant role in the State Water Project in the 1950s and helped secure imported water for San Diego County In the 1960s. The lake was named in his honor in 1964.

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

La Mesa resident Nick Voinov stands in front of his 2022 Helix Water District Landscape Contest winning yard. Photo: Helix Water District water efficient yard

Water Efficient Yard is 2022 Helix Water District Landscape Contest Winner

A thriving, water-efficient yard in La Mesa is the winner of the Helix Water District’s 2022 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

Nick Voinov used multiple layers of succulents, plants and trees to create his winning landscaping. Photo: Helix Water District water efficient yard

Nick Voinov used multiple layers of succulents, plants, and trees to create his winning landscaping. Photo: Helix Water District

Homeowner Nick Voinov worked for a decade to transform his turf into its current watersmart residential landscape. It didn’t always look as bright and colorful as it does today.

“I love plants and found them more appealing than a lawn,” said Voinov. “I thought it was a bit of a waste because I had to water it every day, and then once you mowed it, it was hauled off to the dump. It was like a crop that you grew and then threw away.”

Proper preparation yielded impressive results

Proper soil preparation was a key to the success of this award winning watersmart landscape. Photo: Helix Water District

Proper soil preparation was a key to the success of this award-winning Watersmart landscape. Photo: Helix Water District

Voinov removed his old lawn and composted it into the soil. He added nutrients by mixing in manure from a local horse ranch. Once he prepared the soil and had an open canvas, he began planting.

The result is multiple layers of succulents, drifts of flowering low-water use plants, and colorful trees, giving the garden a theme with design consistency. Voinov based his design around maintaining a natural appearance to make the garden more welcoming. Plants grow together and spill over walkways and walls, softening transitions and borderlines.

Plants spill over walkways and planters for a lush appearance. Photo: Helix Water District

Plants spill over walkways and planters for a lush appearance. Photo: Helix Water District

“Succulents were my top choice of plants. People would give me clippings; I love them because you can clip them off and start new ones. Anyone can do it,” said Voinov. He said it’s also also cost-effective.

Voinov irrigates efficiently by deep watering with sprinklers once every two weeks during the summer season. Letting the soil dry out between watering encourages plants to grow deeper roots and helps them access more water, maximizing irrigation. During the cooler months, the plants do not require any irrigation.

Homeowner Nick Voinov maximizes rainwater capture and use where possible. Photo: Helix Water District

The landscape uses rainwater as a resource. The current rainwater catchment system can collect 700 gallons and refills after most storms. During large storms, Voinov directs surplus rainwater to his fruit trees to maximize the amount of water that reaches his landscape.

“I like to make things as efficient as possible. Rainwater is free, and if I can save and collect that water, I will,” said Voinov.

Water-efficiency

The charming, colorful landscape demonstrates the many options for watersmart landscaping. Photo: Helix Water District

With a water-efficient yard, a rainwater capture system, and WaterSmart home habits like collecting and reusing shower warm-up water, Nick Voinov and his family of five use a maximum of 20 units of water each 60-day billing cycle. That is less than half of what a typical family of five with a similar-sized landscape uses.

“I make a great effort with my family to conserve water because it is important to us,” said Voinov. “We know how precious water is in California, and I really wanted to see if what I do does make a difference.”

The Helix Water District Board of Directors recognized Nick Voinov at its June board meeting, complimenting his work and presenting him a $250 gift card, a yard sign, and an award certificate.

The annual landscape contest runs from January through mid-May each year.

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Helix Water District Logo Square officers for 2021

Helix Water District Announces 2022 WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winner

What was once a thirsty lawn is now a peaceful, thriving, water-efficient paradise.

Helix Water District announced Nick Voinov as the winner of its 2022 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The annual competition recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, design, efficient irrigation and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.