Ken Roberts


Ken Roberts

Distinguished Pioneer

Professional background

Kenneth Frederick Roberts (1923-1995) was born in Lancaster, England, and attended Manchester University where he received an honours degree in civil engineering.  In 1947, he joined the Bristol Waterworks Company as a staff engineer. .  Inside Bristol Water Ken had a rapidly progressing and highly successful career and  rose to become Deputy Chief Engineer and then General Manager in 1971.

He was a central figure in the pivotal Ogden Commission which recommended a massive consolidation in England’s water authorities, put into effect in 1974.  Hundreds of water and wastewater authorities were consolidated into ten river-basin-based combined drinking and wastewater authorities, with additional basin management responsibilities.  Wessex Water Authority, one of the ten,  emerged with Ken Roberts as the Chief Executive.  Wessex was recognized as a highly effective, smoothly running organization, but also for its radical approach to the application of technology, a commercial outlook and performance measurement. Ken retired in 1988.

Ken was also a central figure in the Chartered Institute for Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), where he played leadership roles for over 45 years, including as President in 1979-80.  He was appointed CBE in 1979.

Major Contributions to IWA

Ken was a very important figure also internationally in both IWSA and in EUREAU, where he served as it first UK President (1985-1988).

Ken was a both a prominent utility member of IWSA through Wessex Water, and served on IWSA’s Executive Committee and as Chairman of the Finance Committee.   Ken served as a crucial link between IWSA, CIWEM in the UK and EUREAU in the EU,  strengthening all three organizations over several decades with long- lasting positive influences .

Authors:  Paul D Reiter

Major Source: CIWEM Journal 1995