A local child from Santee has been commissioned to help run one of the county’s largest water agencies.
Brian Olney, who has worked in the water industry for more than a quarter of a century, was recently appointed deputy general manager of Helix Water District, the eastern county agency that supplies water to more than 250,000 customers.
Olney, 48, has been on the district leadership team for almost two decades. He is the director of water quality and system operations, a position he will hold while the district recruits his replacement. Olney’s salary is $ 214,884. The maximum salary for the newly created Assistant General Manager position is $ 225,624.
He will work with Managing Director Carlos Lugo, who has led Helix since 2012. He is expected to retire in 2022.
He said it was a biology class at Santana High School that “opened my eyes” to the water. Olney attended Grossmont and Palomar Community Colleges, where he obtained an associate’s degree in water science technology, and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration from San Diego State University. .
He started his career doing construction work in the utilities, then as a plant operator from 1994 to 2000 with the Lakeside Water District. He then worked as an Assistant Plant Operator with Otay Water District for six months before landing in Helix at the end of 2000.
“I love my job,” Olney said. “It does something good for the public. It sounds cheesy, but I’ve worked on both sides, in the public and private sectors, and the mentality of doing something for the greater good, of serving people in the public sector, is so much more meaningful. It’s been 27 years and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Lugo said Olney had strong leadership skills with an ability for compromise and collaboration, had a strong work ethic and was “dedicated, open-minded and well-rounded.” Lugo said Olney makes him want to be better as a general manager and he’s the right person to follow in his place.
“Brian moved from practical work to department manager and over the 27 years he has learned all aspects of the water industry – water quality, engineering, finance, customer service and operations, ”said Lugo. “Brian is extremely dedicated to this organization and the customers we serve. He is continually learning and constantly trying to develop and hone his skills. Brian has a collaborative leadership style, but he is direct when needed, and that will fit well with the culture and values of this organization.
Kira Haley, Recreation Manager at Helix-managed Jennings Lake Reservoir, congratulated Olney on her new role.
Haley called Olney a “lifelong learner, trusted manager and dedicated public servant for our taxpayers” and said Olney was her first supervisor when she joined the district.
“Brian was my first supervisor,” Haley said. “He played a big role in supporting us during the transition period at the lake. He is always available to bounce ideas. He enjoys being involved and jumps at the chance to help.
He said maintaining communication with the Helix workforce will be a priority, “to make sure we are all paddling in the same direction to achieve our goals.”
Olney said water is people’s most reliable utility, and that while residents sometimes lose their power if San Diego Gas & Electric has to shut off their power for a week at a time, “no one is wasting water. ‘water for more than a day “.