The city of San Diego has hired a new director for its Public Utilities Department, NBC 7 has learned. The department has struggled to regain customer trust after more than a year of audits and internal investigations.
Shauna Lorance, currently the interim General Manager at Monterey County Water Resources, will take over the position vacated by Vic Bianes, who resigned abruptly last year.
According to Lorance's resume on LinkedIn, she also formerly worked at San Juan Water District.
This comes after the mayor's office announced earlier this year a major overhaul of its troubled water department, including the departures of five top directors and managers.
Lorance will face a number of challenges including citizen complaints over high water meter bills and the growing backlog of broken water meter boxes and lids citywide.
Interim director Matthew Vespi told NBC 7 that he expects the department to implement the auditor’s remaining recommendations by June. A review of the AMI project, as well as the department’s customer service division, is expected to be released by June 2019.
In a year-long investigation, NBC 7 Responds and Voice of San Diego looked into the Public Utilities Department after thousands of customers came forward, claiming they were overcharged for water. In some cases by thousands of dollars.
The team found a lack of transparency from the department as well as examples where department heads provided inaccurate information to the public.
All of the investigation’s findings were featured in a four-part special called “Flood of Distrust.”