goatsThe Helix Water District has hired new fire protection employees to work on facilities in La Mesa: goats.

In the current phase of the project, 70 goats are noshing their way through tall weeds and grass, providing critical fire protection services at the base of the Chet Harritt Dam in Lakeside. Protected by an electric fence powered by a solar cell and an Anatolian Shepherd, these hungry little girls are doing what they do best-eat.

In so doing, they are providing:

  1. Fire protection for critical water treatment and pumping station facilities owned by the Helix Water District
  2. Environmentally friendly mowing services
  3. Reduction in the District’s carbon footprint by eliminating most of the use of gasoline powered, two-stroke engine weed-eaters and the gasoline consumption from tucking and hauling debris to a landfill from this large area
  4. Cost savings to Helix ratepayers-clearing 10-acres for about the same amount as 4- acres would cost using commercial weed-abatement
  5. Munching on steeply inclining terrain that would otherwise be considered difficult, and perhaps even dangerous, to be mowed by individuals with hand-held weed-eaters

This project will be done in two phases-the current phase will concentrate on the lower areas around the Harold Ball Pump Station, and the second phase will begin in September in order to protect sensitive habitat, and will spread up the face of the dam and the steep hills leading up to the R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant. This is an area that was part of the burn during the 2003 Cedar Fire, forcing the Plant staff to fight the flames by hand as the destructive force approached.

The second phase will employ about 150 – 200 goats, also from Brad Woolf’s company, Hire-a- Goat. With the larger number, Mr. Woolf may place a guard lama in the pen. In addition to the fencing, the guard dog or lama protects the goats from predators such as coyotes. Water is provided and goats are tended daily by Mr. Woolf who works out of his ranch in Ramona.

Fire protection for water treatment and pumping facilities is critical to the District and the community at large. This environmental friendly project has benefits to both.