News Item

Andrew Brunhart Departs From the Helm at South Coast Water District

LAGUNA BEACH, CA. – October 11, 2018 – South Coast Water District President Bill Green announced the departure of Andrew Brunhart as General Manager of the South Coast Water District (SCWD) effective October 1.   The board of directors named Assistant General Manager and Chief Engineer Rick Shintaku to lead the District as interim general manager until an official successor is appointed.

Brunhart, a retired Navy Captain, spent 30 years managing and operating public utilities and infrastructure before joining the District as general manager in December 2013.  He became general manager just as California was entering one of the most profound droughts in history.  Among other steps, Mr. Brunhart sent over 1,000 personal letters to customers who were using water 24 hours a day — a sure sign of a leak. He offered residents help in determining the cause of the leak at no charge. In the first five months, more than 750 customers repaired their leaks and saved an estimated total of 2.7 million gallons per month. That is enough water to serve 300 households each month.

In 2015, Mr. Brunhart set out to simplify the District’s existing complicated rate structure. The District held a total of nine board workshops from November of 2015 through April 2016.  The Board of Directors voted on a new rate structure that would cover its fixed costs, keep SCWD financially stable, and protect the environment. However, most importantly, all charges reflected a fairness principle that all customers pay for the cost of providing safe and reliable water and wastewater services -- no more and no less.

In 2017, under Mr. Brunhart’s guidance, SCWD began a five-year, $100 million Tunnel Stabilization & Sewer Pipeline Replacement Project (Tunnel Project), funded by a low-interest Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan.  The Tunnel Project will provide the community with a 100-year solution to protect the environment, local economies, and the community. 

The same year, Brunhart oversaw the planning and execution of the critically important Recycled Water Bottleneck Project underneath Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. The construction project required extensive community outreach to mitigate the impacts of traffic, noise, and disruption of the traveling public and the nearby community in South Laguna. Mr. Brunhart invited the community to vote on various construction alternatives and committed to the public that he would implement the community’s preferred choice. SCWD completed the project using the community’s preferred alternative, within the time frame agreed to by the residents and District. 

During his tenure, the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF) awarded the District with the Transparency Certificate of Excellence in recognition of its outstanding efforts to promote transparency and good governance. “This award is a testament to our commitment to open government,” said Brunhart.  “Our staff is commended for their contributions that empower the public with information and facilitate engagement and oversight.”

In 2015, the South Coast Water District took over the development of the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project. Currently, the District is in the process of finalizing the Environmental Impact Report for the project. Brunhart was instrumental in the District’s planning efforts. Vice President Wayne Rayfield conveyed his deep appreciation for Brunhart’s efforts, “Andy worked diligently in planning the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project and steering the District on the right course to securing a local, drought-proof, high quality and safe drinking water supply for South Orange County. He was successful in obtaining a $10 million grant to support the project.”

President Bill Green’s announcement to staff about Mr. Brunhart’s departure stated, “We cannot thank Andy enough for the dedication, leadership, and direction that he has provided the South Coast Water District over the past four and a half years. We extend our deepest gratitude to Andy for all he has done for the SCWD and its staff and send our best wishes for his future.”

South Coast Water District was established in 1932. The District currently serves most of Dana Point, South Laguna Beach, and parts of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. District facilities include 15 reservoirs, 147 miles of water lines, 136 miles of sewer lines, seven water pumping stations, 14 sewer pumping stations, and approximately 12,360 water meters. An elected five-member Board of Directors governs the District. Learn more at www.scwd.org, or find us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

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