Jan Dirickx
President: 1986-1988 (IWSA)


Jan Dirickx

Distinguished Pioneer

Professional background

Jan Dirickx (1922 – ?) was a national and international leader in water supply.   He attended the Catholic University Leuven and received his Civil Engineering degree in 1946.  He began his career at the Antwerp Water Works in 1949, rising through challenging positions leading to his appointment as Managing Director in 1969.

Antwerp, like Amsterdam, faced rapid post-war growth in water demands.  The cities were faced with the imperative to engineer a major augmentation of surface water from distant, trans-boundary sources.  This undertaking dominated Dirickx’s tenure at the Antwerp Water, including conveyance, treatment, and upstream pollution mitigation of the Maas River in an international context.  Consequently, Jan was heavily involved with EUREAU from its inception.

Jan was a beloved figure in the Antwerp Water Authority for which a book was developed by his admirers on his retirement (1988).

Major Contributions to IWA

For three decades Jan Dirickx was a central figure in IWSA’s development.  He was part of the second generation of highly active IWSA leadership, initiated by van der Veen in 1976, which included IWSA Presidents Ishibashi, Dejouany, and Schalekamp.  He served as IWSA President 1986 -1988.

Dirickx was passionate about how IWSA should meet the challenges of water supply and sanitation in the emerging developing countries worldwide.  He established the IWSA COCODEV (Committee for Cooperation in Development) initiative in the early 1980’s. In 1986 Dirickx was central to the establishment of an historic agreement between IWSA, WHO and the World Bank to help shape and fund IWSA’s contributions to the UN Water Development Goals. In 1989, he led the establishment of the IWSA Foundation for the Transfer of Knowledge and organized its first dedicated conference in 1991.

Jan is remembered within IWA for his leadership, commitment, and his spirit.

Authors:  Paul D Reiter

Contributor: Jan Janssens