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.

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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.

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.

1977

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.

1998

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.

2000

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.

2009

The Water and Development Congress & Exhibition

2016

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

Presidents

2000-2001
Mr. Piet Odendaal

2000-2001
Mr. vincent Bath

2001-2003
Prof. Norihito Tambo

2003-2004
Mr. Michael Rouse

2004-2006
Prof. Lászlo Somlyódy

2006-2011
Dr. David Garman

2011-2014
Dr. Glen Daigger

2014-2016
Helmut Kroiss

2016-present
Diane d’Arras

President Elect
Tom Mollenkopf

Executive Directors

1999-2002
Dr. Anthony Milburn

2002-2012
Mr. Paul Reiter

2012-2017
Ger Bergkamp

2017-present
Prof. Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy

Global Water Award winners

2004
Jamie Bartram

2004
Jisung

2006
Daniel Okun

2008
Mark van Loosdrecht

2008
Jim Gill

2010
Blanca Jimenez Cisneros

2010
David Jenkins

2012
Trussel Rhodes

2014
Baoxing Qiu

2016
Catarina de Albuquerque

2018
Tony Wong

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

20 years IWA banner