Emerging Leaders: Vince De Lange, Wastewater Engineering Manager, East Bay Municipal Utility District

Vince De Lange, Wastewater Engineering Manager, East Bay Municipal Utility District

Vince De Lange, Wastewater Engineering
Manager, East Bay
Municipal Utility District

“My educational background was exactly in line with what I’m doing in my career—which is rewarding,” De Lange says. He proudly adds, “I bleed brown!”

An authority on waste to energy projects who uses strong technical skills, risk-based decision making, and excellent communication skills to implement capital improvement projects. That describes Vince De Lange, Wastewater Engineering Manager at the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

In nominating him, colleague Heidi Oriol noted, “Vince has implemented a new risk assessment approach to effectively discuss risks as part of any significant decision making, evaluate potential mitigation alternatives, and communicate risks to executive management and the EBMUD Board of Directors.

“He is skilled at speaking in a manner that causes others to pause and really listen, and has the ability to motivate staff to face challenges with enthusiasm and energy.”

De Lange received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil/environmental engineering from UC Berkeley. In his 16 years at EBMUD, he’s worked as a process engineer, a planning supervisor, and moved into his current position two years ago.

“My educational background was exactly in line with what I’m doing in my career—which is rewarding,” De Lange says. He proudly adds, “I bleed brown!”

EBMUD’s waste-to-energy program is highly innovative and challenging. Excess digester capacity has enabled it to bring in trucked organic waste and produce more gas and electricity. “We’re on the leading edge,” De Lange says. “We’re envisioning long-term, large scale integration of wastewater treatment and solid waste handling via digestion, production of electricity or compressed natural gas, and composting of the digested product.”

As a prime leader in renewable energy, EBMUD often finds itself in uncharted territory, which requires planning and risk management. “Understanding your agency’s capacity to identify and manage risks is key to embarking on a challenging waste-to-energy program,” says De Lange. “We require our engineers to identify and mitigate project risks, to support the management decision-making process.”

To assimilate complex issues and provide a clear path forward, De Lange uses a combination of process ªow charts and summaries of key challenges, considerations, alternatives, and recommendations integrated into a single handout to lead team meetings at EBMUD. “This technique has been helpful in bringing large workgroups all on the same page, when the issue complexity can sometimes be overwhelming,” he explains.

Humor helps. “I use it with my staff to lighten the mood and help relieve pressure at the right moments,” De Lange explains. “You need to stay calm in the face of pressure. The thing I appreciate most is my relationships with my co-workers as we work through challenging issues together.”

 

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Megan Barillo

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