Wes Eckenfelder


Wes Eckenfelder

Distinguished Pioneer

Professional background

Wesley Eckenfelder (1928-2010), who was described as “the father of the modern approach to the use of biological processes for industrial wastewater treatment,” was professor of environmental engineering at Manhattan College, University of Texas at Austin, and Vanderbilt University.

A true pioneer, in the 1950s he designed his first activated sludge plant, which served as a model for industrial waste treatment, leading to his first book, Biological Waste Treatment (1961). What followed was more than 30 books and hundreds of research papers on industrial wastewater treatment, and a career as a renowned consultant to many industries, leading to pioneering contributions to treatability studies and the use of mathematical modeling for biological treatment. He founded more than 5 companies. and received 28 awards and accolades from professional societies. In December 1999, he was designated one of three people to be named “20th Century Pollution Control Pioneers” by Environmental Protection magazine. 

Major contributions to IWA

Wes Eckenfelder is remembered as one of the most colorful, charismatic, and influential pioneers in the 1962 (London) and 1964 (Tokyo) conferences that led-up to the formation of IAWPR. He was a founding member of IAWPR (1965) and played a leading role on the IAWPR Expert Advisory Panel on Industrial Waste Treatment, making his specialized expertise available for global dissemination for many years. He became the first editor of the newly formed Water Research in 1967 – a position he held through 1974. As a celebrated teacher and a brilliant communicator, Wes was a very popular speaker and lectured throughout the world.  Widely recognized as an IWA ambassador, he influenced his colleagues and students to join IWA and become active members of the association.

Author: Rajendra Bhattarai, USA.