Carlos Lugo of Poway, an employee for two decades of the Helix Water District, has been promoted to general manager of the East County agency, whose current annual budget is $67.4 million.
He is the first Latino to head the water district, which dates to 1885, said Kate Breece, a district spokeswoman.
“After a comprehensive process with a number of qualified candidates, the board has determined that Carlos Lugo is the best person for the position,” board President DeAna Verbeke said after Wednesday’s board meeting.
“His 20-plus years of experience at Helix and leadership style will sustain the organizational excellence of the district and maintain the outstanding service we provide our customers.”
Some 61 people applied for the job to succeed Mark Weston, also a Poway resident, as the top manager of the East County water district based in La Mesa, including some from out of state, Verbeke said.
“Of those, several extremely well-qualified individuals were extensively interviewed by the board over the past six weeks,” the district said of Lugo, its director of engineering for the past 10 years.
Lugo’s appointment becomes effective after the board formally approves his employment agreement at the Feb. 1 board meeting. His salary has not been announced, but will be disclosed Friday, Breece said.
Weston, who in mid-October announced his retirement at age 61, was making $203,000 a year, according to the district.
Lugo, 48, has been with the Helix Water District since 1991. He began his career in the district’s engineering section as an assistant engineer.
He became director of engineering 10 years ago, where he oversees a staff of 25.
Lugo holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from San Diego State University. He is a member of American Water Works Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Public Works Association, and is a licensed professional engineer.
Helix’s engineering section includes planning design, right of way, survey and inspection. Lugo has had full responsibility for, and oversight of, the district’s Capital Improvement Program.
Under his direction, said a statement, the district embarked on an ambitious Cast Iron Replacement Program, which replaced an average of five miles of pipe per year over the past 10 years, with the goal of removing all remaining cast iron pipe from the district within the next 10 years.
Between 1998 and 2002, Lugo oversaw the upgrade to the R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant from 80 million to 108 million gallons a day and the addition of ozone as the primary drinking water disinfectant.
Helix Water District—which includes La Mesa, Spring Valley and Lemon Grove—serves 267,000 customers each day with a staff of 146.