OCEANSIDE — Cari Dale was rehired as city Water Utilities Director this month after a one-year break from the city to serve in a management position with Olivenhain Municipal Water District.
Dale said she returned to her former position because of her love for the city. She added another reason was the resignation of Interim Water Utilities Director Jason Dafforn, whom she had mentored to fill the job.
Dafforn was hired as engineering manager for Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District in November, before Oceanside began interviews for a water utilities director.
“I absolutely, truly missed Oceanside,” Dale said. “With Jason’s departure I really wanted to step back into the role.”
Dale said she sees Oceanside’s future as bright. The water utilities department is simultaneously working on replacement of aged pipeline, refurbishment and rehabilitation of facilities, and seismic retrofits to reservoirs.
In addition to upgrades to infrastructure and facilities, the department will be shutting down the La Salina Wastewater Treatment Plant and transferring operations to the San Luis Rey Wastewater Treatment facility over the next few years.
“We have a handle on what we need to do,” Dale said.
The department will also continue to develop local water sources. Studies are looking at the feasibility of recharging the Mission Basin Groundwater Purification Facility aquifer with treated water, and drawing groundwater from near shore wells.
Efforts to supply Goat Hill Park golf course and SoCal Sports Complex fields with recycled water are fast tracked to deliver water to the sites in the next few months.
Dale has worked for Oceanside for four and a half years, and served in the public sector for 23 years.
Dale first came on board in Oceanside in 2010.
At that time the city was on credit watch for its bonds, and all projects had stopped.
In four years Dale led the department to improve its credit rating, build up reserve funds and gain community trust. New bonds were issued, and the city improved its credit rating by two grades.
Financial improvements, an aggressive education campaign and increased water rates allowed the city to begin overdue infrastructure repairs.
Dale left in November 2014. At that time, she said her departure was due to unfruitful salary discussions with then City Manager Steve Jepsen. Her salary upon leaving was $165,000 annually. A comparable salary was $205,000.
According to the city website Dale’s present city salary is $184,000 a year.
Dale said she plans to work for Oceanside until her retirement, which is in six years.