IWA at 20

An influential confluence of people and ideas

In 2000 the International Water Services Association funded in 1947, and the International Association on Water Quality founded in 1965, joined together to form The International Water Association (IWA).

The heritage

The International Water Services Association (IWSA), formed in 1947, was the premier international organisation concerned with the provision of water supply and wastewater management to homes, industry and agriculture. IWSA’s goals of promoting international freedom in the exchange of technical, scientific and managerial experience and expertise have brought wide support from all nationalities who recognise the value of an organisation whose ideals and actions are totally independent of particular ideological, cultural, religious and economic influences. IWSA strived to constantly promote it’s principal aims of securing a maximum exchange of information on all water-related subjects.

Just as the confluence of two tributaries become a more powerful stream, so IWA, the new association, has surged forth with more hydrological energy, diversity and complexity than its two sources combined. Over the next two decades IWA’s members – the world’s leading water professionals – would expand human knowledge by sharing experience and consequential solutions in print and in person.

Just as the confluence of two tributaries become a more powerful stream, so IWA, the new association, has surged forth with more hydrological energy, diversity and complexity than its two sources combined.

Read more

Over two decades IWA’s members – the world’s leading water professionals – would expand human knowledge by sharing experience and consequential solutions in print and in person.

From field to lab and from classroom to boardroom IWA’s current now embraces the entire water cycle. It integrates water into human development and trade. It explores and unlocks valuable new benefits at the nexus of water and agriculture, electricity, health, cities, industry and ecosystems. It unites us all.

Yet that initial confluence was only the start. Each year infuses new people and ideas into IWA’s current.

Phosphorous recovery. Regulatory risk-taking. Microplastic filters. Sponge cities. Wastewater’s DNA. Water quality markets. Quantifying non-revenue water. Nanotech membranes. Anaerobic digestion. The human right to sanitation. Digitising data. Tariff overhaul. Measuring Sustainable Development Goal #6.

IWA solves the world’s most urgent challenges by taking a ‘systems approach’ to water. Transcending quick technical fixes, this lets us set the global water agenda – linking research and practice, businesses and governments, hardware and humanities, efficiency and equity and ecology – in a way that endures.  

Like all rivers, IWA’s currents remain dynamic. They flood and meander, adapt and respond to changing conditions. In a hotter, more crowded world, water crises of quantity and quality annually rank as a top global risk. For people, nature, government and business, water has become a volatile source of conflict.

Yet #IWAmembers can anticipate coming years with confidence if we only reflect on the first twenty.

What we see, past and future, is a constantly growing confluence of influential pragmatists, led by water luminaries who find opportunities where others see only crises, inspired by outstanding innovative professionals who predict a #WaterWise future – by becoming the ones who invent it.

1999 #1 journal launched: Journal of Hydroinformatics July 1999 - The International Water Association (IWA) - signing of merger of the IWSA and IWAQ #1 IWA Publishing book published: Wastewater Treatment Systems #1 issue of Water21 2000 2000 #1 Publication: IWA Performance Indicators for Water Supply Services The International Water Association is now fully operational #1 WWCE, Paris, France (click here to read more) IWA Foundation, Buenos Aires, Argentina Co-Presidents:
Piet Odendaal and
Vincent Bath, South Africa
#1 SG Health Related Water Microbiology Conference, Paris, France Executive Director:
Anthony Milburn, UK
2001 WWCE Berlin, Germany "Efficient Water Management - Making it Happen" #1 Specialist Groups Forum, Windsor, UK President: Norihito Tambo, Japan 2002 WWCE Melbourne, australia "A unique approach to a unique environment" #1 IWA Publishing Award: Piet Lens, The Netherlands President: Michael Rouse, UK #1 IWA Young Water Professionals conference, Cran #1 International Young Researchers conference (IYRC) Executive Director: Paul Reiter, UK 2003 #1 LET - Leading Edge Conference on Water and Wastewater Technologies, Noordwijk, The Netherlands 2004 #1 IWA Global Water Award:
Jamie Bartram, Switzerland / Jisong Wu, China
IWA Bonn Charter for Safe Drinking Water President: László Somlyódy, Hungary WWCE Marrakesh, Morocco #1 YWP Forum, Marrakesh, Morroco
2005 #1 International Conference on Water Economics, Statistics & Finance, Crete, Greece, by IWA Specialist Group on Statistics and Economics #1 IWA-ASPIRE Conference & Exhibition, Singapore 2006 WWCE Beijing, China
"Sustainable Water Management Practices"
Water Intelligence Online ebook library launched President: David Garman, USA #1 Open access article published: Journal of Water & Health
2007 Opening IWA Global Office, The Hague, Netherlands IWA Regional Office opened in Singapore Bonn Network 2008 WWCE Vienna, Austria "Cities of the Future" #1 YWP Chapter - South Africa #1 IWA Women in Water Award: Joan Rose, USA 2009 #1 WDCE Mexico City, Mexico IWA Regional Offices opened in Beijing, China; Nairobi, Kenya 2010 IWA Fellows launched President: Glen Daigger, USA WWCE Montreal, Canada 2011 WDCE Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2012 Executive Director: Ger Bergkamp, The Netherlands WWCE Busan, South Korea: "Pioneering Global Water Solutions" 2013 WDCE Nairobi, Kenya 2014 #1 IWA Water Regulators Forum, Lisbon, Portugal WWCE Lisbon, Portugal "To Seek & to Solve: From New York Deliberation to Lisbon Delivery" President: Helmut Kroiss, Austria 2015 WWCE Dead Sea, Jordan "Water Security for Sustainable Growth" IWA Connect gobal digital platform launched The Lisbon Charter #1 IWA Award for Best Practice on Resource Recovery: Aquaminerals, waternet, Ardagh Glass and Desso #1 IWA Development Awards: Practice: Mamadou Dia, Senegal / Research - Pay Drechsel, Germany #1 edition of The Source Magazine 2016 The Untapped Resource: Gender Diversity in the Water Workforce IWA North America Regional Office
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
#1 IWA Project Innovation Award: Rand Water, South Africa President: Diane d'Arras, France WWCE Brisbane, Australia "Shaping Our Water Future" #1 Fully open access journal: H2Open Journal #1 ISWE/IWA Biocluster Award: Holger Daims, Lut Raskin, Mads Albersten Manual on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation for Practitioners IWA Principles for Water Wise Cities
2017 WDCE Buenos Aires, Argentina "Sustainable Solutions for Emerging Cconomies" #1 Asia-Pacific Water Regulators Forum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Executive Director: Kala Vairavamoorthy, UK 2018 WWCE Tokyo, Japan "Shaping Our Water Future" IWA Action Agenda for Basin-Connected Cities (September 2018) 2019 WDCE Colombo, Sri Lanka "Sustainable Solutions for Emerging Economies" IWA Global Operations Hub, Nanjing, China 2020 2020 / 2021 WWCE Copenhagen, Denmark "Water for Smart Liveable Cities" President: Tom Mollenkopf, Australia

IWA key moments

Highlighting key moments of IWA is highlighting the history of the water sector. We look forward hearing from our heros, the world’s leading water professionals about the moments they deem key in IWA’s history.

Share your memories on IWA connect or send us an email with your favourite story!

Formed in 1977 as the IWA Water Virology Specialist Group, the IWA Health-Related Water Microbiology (HRWM) Specialist Group was the first developed within IWA. The first of IWA’s Specialised Conferences (at that time called a “workshop”) was held in Vienna in 1971 by the IWA Design, Operation and Costs of Large Wastewater Treatment Plants Specialist Group, since it has been repeated in four-year periods in Vienna; and from 1987 the venue has circulated between Vienna, Budapest and Prague.

Today there are 50 IWA Specialist Groups which are engines for scientific and technical content development that drive innovations in the water sector.


Specialist groups

The Talking Stick is a tradition of Canada’s First Nation. A mark of respect, where whoever holds the stick is free to speak, receiving the full attention of those present. And when they have had their say, they pass the stick on to the next speaker. The tradition was initiated at the Vancouver Congress in 1998. It has been passed on from Congress President to Congress President since.


The Talking Stick

IWA newsletters

The first three IWA newsletters, go back in time and read the concerns and hopes of the start of our organisation.

The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition is the global event for water professionals covering the entire water cycle. Over the past 20 years, there have been 11 editions of the Congress in 11 different cities around the globe. This flagship event is known to attract thousands of international water professionals who produce innovative solutions to the global water challenges.


The World Water Congress & Exhibition

Gathering water professionals with leading practitioners, researchers, and policy makers to understand challenges, solutions and development opportunities in other regions of the world is the aim of the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition.


The Water and Development Congress & Exhibition


Madam president

Diane d’Arras was elected as the President of the IWA in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018. She is the only female President in the history of the Association.

IWA presidents and executive directors


Mr. Piet Odendaal

Mr. vincent Bath

Prof. Norihito Tambo

Mr. Michael Rouse

Prof. Lászlo Somlyódy

Dr. David Garman

Dr. Glen Daigger

Helmut Kroiss

Diane d’Arras

President Elect
Tom Mollenkopf

Executive Directors

Dr. Anthony Milburn

Mr. Paul Reiter

Ger Bergkamp

Prof. Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy

Global Water Award winners

Jamie Bartram


Daniel Okun

Mark van Loosdrecht

Jim Gill

Blanca Jimenez Cisneros

David Jenkins

Trussel Rhodes

Baoxing Qiu

Catarina de Albuquerque

Tony Wong

The voices of some of our heros, discover all others and join!

20 years IWA banner