Our History

The Institute of Water was founded in 1945 by Allen Bolton.

Founder Member Allen Bolton

In November 1938, Allen Bolton began his tenure at Sutton and District Water Company as a plumber. By 1945, he had risen to Chief Inspector. Faced with a lack of resources in the industry, he founded his own organisation to provide the necessary information and insights into water operations, as existing professional bodies couldn’t meet his requirements.


On April 21st, 1945, in Croydon, 78 officers from Water Authorities across the South East convened for the inaugural meeting of a proposed organisation. They unanimously decided to establish the Association to advance understanding of the principles and practices governing public water supply distribution. The Association’s first official gathering occurred on May 12, 1945, at the Sutton and District Water Company offices in Surrey.

Allen Bolton’s Legacy (1938-2011)

Allen retained a keen interest in IWater well into retirement and attended every Annual Conference and AGM until 2007 when he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Allen died in February 2011, two months after celebrating his 100th Birthday.


Allen is one of many members who, over the years, have devoted their time, energy and ideas to create a framework and an environment in which others can fulfil their potential within the UK water sector. 


The Allen Bolton Award was established in his memory in 2011 and still continues to celebrate people with exceptional commitment to IWater today.

A body for the UK Water Sector


Within a year word had reached the North of England and the first local Area Committee was formed in Leeds. It took 15 years to achieve coverage across the UK, with the formation of Area Committees as follows:


1946     7 December      Northern                        Leeds

1947     26 July              South Eastern               Croydon

1948     16 October       South West                   Taunton

1948     20 November    Midlands                       Coventry

1953     18 July             South Wales                 Cardiff

1954     17 July             Eastern                         Grantham

1955     9 June              North Wales                  Wrexham

1955     11 December    Scotland                       Edinburgh

1961     25 March          Northern Ireland            Belfast


In 2006 the two Areas in Wales amalgamated to form a single Welsh Area 

Our Name

Over the years there have been several changes of name to reflect the diversity of members and the status as a professional body:


1954: Association of Water Officers 

1990: Institution of Water Officers 

2010: Institute of Water 


The name may have changed but the underlying needs remain the same: the search for higher professional standards, the desire for knowledge, the need to keep abreast of developments and a determination to succeed as individuals. 

Our 80th Anniversary

In one year, on May 12th, 2025, the Institute of Water will be celebrating its 80th anniversary!


For the past eight decades, we have stood in support of developing the UK water sector workforce, fostering collaboration, innovation, and knowledge sharing. This milestone represents not just our longevity, but the commitment and dedication of each and every one of our members, past and present.


As we gear up to mark this significant anniversary, we want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all who have been a part of this incredible journey. Stay tuned for more details about the anniversary celebrations as we approach the date. We have some exciting plans in store to commemorate this special occasion, and we can’t wait to share them with you.

Milestones and Key Achievements


1954 Office (rented) established in Croydon

1967 Relocated to rented office in Shortlands, Kent

1973 Licensed to register Technicians and Technician Engineers (now EngTech and IEng)

1975 Relocated to rented office in South Shields

1989 First Drilling & Tapping Championship

1991 Purchased own premises: Heriot House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

1998 Sold Heriot House and bought offices at Team Valley, Gateshead

1998 Licensed to award Chartered Engineer (CEng)

2004 First National CPD Awards

2004 Licensed to award Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv)

2005 First time President’s Cup presented

2007 Area Forum established

2011 First National Innovation Awards

2011 First Allen Bolton Award

2012 First year of Rising Stars

2012 Introduction to the Water Industry Course launched

2013 Licensed to register Chartered Scientist (CSci)

2013 Became a Signatory to the Diversity in Engineering Concordat

2014 Licensed to award Registered Scientist (RSci) + Registered Science Technician (RSciTech)

2014 Licensed to award Registered Environmental Technician (REnvTech)

2014 Signed Science Council Declaration on Diversity, Equality & Inclusion

2014 Established a Diversity Champion on the Board

2014 Established a Rising Star seat on the Board

2017 Published first Technical Journal

2019 Environmental Sustainability Policy and Environmental Management System launched

2020 Joined the Energy & Utilities Sector’s Inclusion Commitment

2020 Licensed to award Registered Environmental Practitioner (REnvP)

2021 Signed Diverse Sustainability Initiative