Santa Rosa conducted a nationwide search for its new utilities director, but it tapped someone close to home for the job.

Effective Wednesday, David Guhin, 37, will replace Miles Ferris, who retires this week after 27 years with the city.

Guhin has worked for the city for nine years, most recently as deputy director of operations at the city's regional wastewater treatment on Laguna Road.

City Manager Kathy Millison said Guhin is a thoughtful, collaborative leader in whom she has great confidence.

"I have been most impressed with his ability to convey his experience and capability along with a well-articulated future vision for the department," Millison said in a release.

Guhin grew up in Davis, got his civil engineering degree in South Dakota and worked for a private engineering firm in Virginia, designing private and public water and wastewater systems before joining the city.

Santa Rosa's Utilities Department makes up more than half the city budget. Its $122 million budget is larger than the city's entire general fund, out of which police, fire, planning and other services are funded.

The department is responsible for providing clean water and sewer service for more than 52,000 businesses and households in Santa Rosa, in addition to sewer service in Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol and some unincorporated areas of the county.

Guhin said the system he's inheriting is in excellent shape thanks to the community's long-standing commitment to maintain it. One of his priorities will be to communicate to ratepayers, who have seen their rates more than double in the past decade, why keeping the system in good shape is a good investment.

"Every glass of water you drink from the faucet, every time you flush the toilet, 24/7, seven days a week, it's there and it works," Guhin said. "Explaining why it's important to maintain that system is important."

Details of Guhin's contract still were being finalized. The salary range for the post is $135,360 to $169,320 a year.

Guhin also is vice president of the board of directors of the Redwood Empire Food Bank and co-chairman of the local organizing committee for the Amgen Tour of California. He is married and is an avid cyclist.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or OnTwitter @citybeater