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History of the Institute

Aquatic Environmental Engineering in Karlsruhe was created in 1962 when the Institute of City Engineering was restructured. The State Ministry decreed the founding of an Institute in 1967 and the Chair of Aquatic Environmental Engineering was filled in 1969.

Aquatic Environmental Engineering or Public Health Engineering or Water Quality Management – department names that are found in other universities – is a relatively young academic field. Its origin in Germany can be traced back either to the establishing of two university institutes immediately after World War II or to the publication of the first and complete standard text book by Gordon M. Fair of Harvard University in 1954. Until that time all issues of water supply and wastewater collection as well as industrial water management and resources engineering were taken care off by the above mentioned city engineers.

Teaching of Aquatic Environmental Engineering was focused on civil engineering students in particular in terms of water supply, wastewater disposal and pollution control engineering (and until 1990 when a chair for solid waste management was filled also those issues). All academic offers, classes, seminars, laboratories and theses were also sought after by students of biology, chemistry, geoecology and resources engineering.

Research in Aquatic Environmental Engineering in Karlsruhe developed from the very beginning – due to local specifics - into directions that proved very future oriented and successful: The problems that we dealt with are best described by the following:

  • Instead of concentrating on sewer sections and wastewater treatment plants analyzing the overall drainage area
  • Problem solutions not only on the basis of biological processes but as combinations of physical, chemical and biochemical reactions
  • Analyzing not only technical and natural sciences aspects of a given problem but including from the very beginning also cost-benefit arguments and using optimization tools.

The sectionoriented list of R&D projects illustrates best the spectrum of problems we work on. And it should be noted that we turned very early already to focusing our teaching and research on problems of the developing world.