Our History

Allen Bolton – 1910-2011 – Founder Member

In November 1938 Allen Bolton joined Sutton and District Water Company as a plumber. He became Chief Inspector in 1945 and, with a background in industry, he looked for somewhere to turn for information and an insight into the day to day operations of a water undertaking. None of the professional bodies at that time catered for his needs so he set about creating his own.


The inaugural meeting of the proposed organisation took place in Croydon on 21st April 1945. Attended by 78 officers representing Water Authorities in the South East, the meeting resolved to form an Association for the purpose of promoting a wider knowledge of the principles and practices governing the distribution of public water supplies.

The first meeting of the Association of Water Distribution Officers was held at the offices of the Sutton and District Water Company in Surrey on 12th May 1945. 


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


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. 

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. 

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