The Three Ages of Engineering for the Water Industry


  • Bernard Barraqué


This paper attempts to stimulate the reflection on water policies and economic dimensions, by the presentation of a broad review of the interaction of society and technology in the field of water industry, all the way from its inception in the second half of the 19th century. After presenting the context in which this research was done, and in particular the issues at stake in the E.U. Water Framework Directive, we cover progressively the three eras or ages of technologies and engineering for water industry: civil, chemical/sanitary, and environmental. Then we develop some of the features of environmental engineering needed today for a sustainable water management, like public involvement, and a conception of demand side management based on a better balance between supply and demand side. We finally address the issue of third world cities, because they may also be the future of our water industry if we cannot maintain the overall confidence which European urbanites had developed towards their local water industry.