Emerging Leader: Matt Wiese, Vallecitos Water District

Roni Gehlke, Emerging Leaders

Paying it forward, this Emerging Leader makes sure that he is open and available to mentor any staff member in need at his agency. As a young OIT, an operator always made himself available to help Matt Wiese when he needed it. Over the years, he has set up programs where seasoned operators could mentor and train new operators.

Wiese started as an OIT 12 years ago at Vallecitos Water District (VWD). He worked at VWD for a couple of years before accepting an operator position at Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD). While at IRWD, he was able to get hands-on with different technologies while working through their plant upgrade. After two-and-a-half years at IRWD, Wiese returned to VWD, where he works today as a Grade 4 Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor.

“I have always made it a point to help out fellow operators whenever possible,” he said. “When I first started, an operator always made himself available and was always willing to assist me. I never felt like I was bugging him or he was too busy to step away from what he was doing.”

Wiese said he used his own experience to model his way of assisting other operators. “At Irvine, I noticed that new operators, myself included, needed some training in plant operations and district operations as a whole,” he explained. “There, I set up a new operator training program that utilized more seasoned operators to explain and train operators on the different plant processes.”

Wiese’s supervisor believes that he has brought much instrumentation knowledge to the VMD’s Material Recovery Facility staff. “He has mentored them on proper procedures to trouble shoot, repair, and perform preventative maintenance on the instrumentation such as chlorine analyzers, pH analyzers, and Turbidity meters, to name a few,” said Dawn McDougle. “This knowledge passed to staff has resulted in minimal downtime and emergency repairs.”

In the future, Wiese hopes to take on a greater leadership role at VWD. “There is such a positive work culture here at the district,” he said. “So much so that I can easily see myself finishing my career here. That being said, I always want to develop and challenge myself, and VWD provides a great environment to do just that.”