The South Coast Water District board of directors appointed Andrew Brunhart as the agency's new general manager at its Oct. 24 meeting. He started Dec. 2. (South Coast Water District / December 12, 2013)

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The South Coast Water District has a new general manager, the agency announced in a news release.

Andrew Brunhart started Dec. 2 and replaces Betty Burnett, the district's legal counsel who had been general manager for eight months.

The district board of directors appointed Brunhart to lead the organization at its Oct. 24 meeting, according to the release.

District officials conducted a nationwide search and chose Brunhart from among 50 candidates.

In his previous position, Brunhart managed more than 1,800 employees with the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the release said.

Brunhart, a retired U.S. Navy captain,

has managed and operated public utilities and infrastructure for 30 years, including as general manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in Laurel, Md., the nation's eighth-largest combined water and wastewater district serving 1.8 million citizens in two counties, according to the release.

Brunhart holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering (magna cum laude) from Marquette University; a master's in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and a doctorate in public policy and administration (leadership) from Walden University.

"I'm certain Andy has the leadership skills to see us through the challenging times that face all of the water industry in the West and particularly in Southern California," South Coast Water District board president Wayne Rayfield said in a prepared statement.

South Coast Water District serves 40,000 residents, 1,000 businesses and more than two million visitors a year with potable water, recycled water for irrigation and sanitary sewer service in South Laguna, Dana Point, and parts of San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, the district website said.