Poul Harremoes
President: 1980s IAWPRC


Poul Harremoes

Distinguished Pioneer

Professional background

Poul Harremoes (1934-2003) was Professor of Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). He received MSc degrees from DTU in 1957 and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959. Under his leadership (from 1969) the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering grew into an internationally leading institute and was awarded the 1992 Stockholm Water Prize. Vision, innovation and collaboration between individuals working towards the same goal were the hallmarks of his career, and he was one of the most inspiring speakers and environmental ‘influencers’ of his time.

Poul Harremoes worked with oxygen depletion in rivers and biofilm kinetics in wastewater treatment in the 1970s, modelling of sewers and receiving water discharges during rain in the 1980s, modelling and control of integrated urban drainage systems in the 1990s, and uncertainty, risk and environmental ethics in the 2000 decade. He also had a leading role in the establishment and organisation of the Danish Ministry of Environment in 1972 (the first of its kind in the world). As a member of the Scientific Committee of the European Environmental Agency (1994-2002) he masterminded the development of the precautionary principle, and he received the Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences in 2000.

Major contributions to IWA

Internationally Poul Harremoes set his footprint as president in the 1980s of IAWPRC – now IWA, the International Water Association, where he completely reconstructed the activities emphasizing the development of specialised conferences and specialist groups. Poul was a founding member of the IAHR/IWA Joint Committee on Urban Storm Drainage, which in 2005 instituted the Poul Harremoes Award for the Best Paper by a Young Author – that is awarded at the committee’s triennial conferences for the presentation of novel and ideally provocative ideas relating to developments in urban drainage. At every biennial IWA World Water Congress there is a reminder about his remarkable influence on IWA, the Harremoës lecture.

Author:  Peter Steen Mikkelsen, Denmark