Subject Fields

Specialist Subjects

A significant contribution is made by the consistent technical rules towards achieving efficient and cost-effective environmental protection as well as towards assuring quality. It is for these reasons that the DWA has brought together the latest scientific findings from practically proven procedures in its Set of Rules consisting of Standards and Advisory Guidelines.


Almost 1,500 experts serving in more than 10 main committees with 250 special committees and working groups have cooperated to compile the DWA Set of Rules.


In addition to the main committees, there are other special sub-committees in the DWA such as the FGHW (the special sub-committee for hydrological science), the GFG (the public committee for further training in water management and landscape development) and the project groups dealing with the EC framework directives on water. In addition, the DWA is involved in the national and international development of norms. These fields of activity and the work involved therein are described here in more detail.

Drainage Systems

Drainage systems


The Drainage Systems main committee occupies itself principally with public sewage systems. In all, there are 7 committees of specialists that discuss the planning, construction and operation of drainage systems (cf.: the overall concepts of the "Drainage Systems" main committee). Within the main committee, great importance is attached to planning. Thus there is intensive discussion on the choice of suitable drainage systems as well as what would be the most suitable method of diverting and treating rainwater or how to allow the water to seep away without causing any damage.


The latest sub-committee “Zustandserfassung und Sanierung” deals in particular with inspection, repair, renovation and renewal of existing drainage systems. Even more importance is being given to such questions as sewage networks become older.


The knowledge that is acquired in the “Irrigation Systems” main committee is integrated into the DWA rules and standards by means of a large number of standards and advisory leaflets. Considerable importance is attached to many of these rules for the development of European norms and they become part of European standards.

Economic Planning

A brief description of the Economic Planning main committee

In discussions centring on how to reduce costs, privatisation and liberalisation, the DWA attaches considerable importance to economic aspects besides the technical and scientific aspects. The economic demands are discussed in the “Economic Planning” main committee with its four sub-committees, eight working groups and two ad hoc groups. Currently the greatest weight is attached to the economic effects of the EU framework directives on water, which deal with changes in the organisational structures and the question of fees.
The sub-committees and working groups deal with the following problems:

  • Benchmarking
  • Management systems and certification
  • Investments and operating costs
  • Payments and organisation
  • Accounting

In addition to work on the set of rules and standards, the “Economic Planning” main committee also plans events and publications as well as statements commenting on draft laws and ordinances. For the business managers of the largest wastewater disposal operators, there are discussions organised to exchange ideas and experience and the Economic Planning main committee has assumed the responsibility for these meetings and informs business people directly about the results of the work of the sub-committee.


Gemeinnützige Fortblidungsgesellschaft für Wasserwirtschaft und Landschaftsentwicklung mbH

In 1995, the German Association for Water Research (DVWK) and the ministries of the environment in the states of Hessen and Rheinland-Pfalz founded the Non-profit Organization for Education for Training in Water Management and Landscape Development (GFG). This organisation bears the responsibility for the organisation of training events on natural water management in the federal states of Hessen and Rheinland-Pfalz. This association can be reached via

Hydraulic Engineering and Hydro Power

A brief description of the Hydraulic Engineering and Hydro Power main committee

The key tasks of this main committee include the compiling and continual revision of the DWA rules and standards, including a continual update and maintenance of existing publications and work on specialised norms at a national and international level and, finally, professional training. Prof. Dr. Ing. Habil. Hans Burkhard Horlacher has been chairman of this main committee since January 2004.
These are the main areas of interest:

  • Large and small rivers – river engineering
  • Solids in flowing surface waters and retention sewers
  • Hydraulics / hydraulic issues in water engineering 
  • River barrages, weirs, embankments, barrages and dams 
  • Energy management and utilisation of hydropower 
  • Coastal water engineering 
  • Morphodynamics – inland and coastal waters
  • Sealing systems in water engineering
  • Inland waterway transport
  • Continuous flow of flowing surface water
  • The effects of climate changes in water engineering 
Hydrology and Water Resources Management

A brief description of the Hydrology and Water Resources Management main committee

The DWA “Hydrology and Water Resources Management” main committee, dealing with hydrology and water management, has evolved from the DVWK sub-group concerned with these same areas. The aim of this main committee is to promote hydrology and to support the application of its findings in the field of water management across as wide a range as possible and to foster its development. Thus the main committee offers a forum for scientists and practitioners working in the fields of hydrology and water management. This forum concentrates in particular on analysing, collating and discussing scientific findings from quantitative and qualitative hydrology with due consideration of the ecological context, with the ultimate goal of implementing the findings in a sustainable form of water management that conserves resources. 
The principle tasks to be dealt with in order to achieve the set goals are as follows:

  • Clarification of the dependencies and processes in the water cycle, including the influence of human activities and changes in the framework conditions,
  • Improvements to methods and procedures in the acquisition and the management of data, i.e. the gathering, transfer, processing, archiving, documentation and presentation of data,
  • Gathering the basic information for planning, construction, operation and control of water management plants and systems. Devising instruments for planning water management for specific catchment areas, forecasting and evaluating, including weighing up competing usage claims.

These key tasks concern areas of quantitative and qualitative hydrology and the implementation thereof in water management that are of practical and scientific significance both in Germany and overseas.

International Standardisation

International Standardisation

The DWA’s work concentrates strongly on setting rules and standards. The standardisation of analysis procedures and products is carried out via DIN: the DWA plays an active role in its standards committee for water. At a European level, the sole representative in the CEN committees is the DIN. The DIN and the DWA have however contractually agreed that in those sectors in which the DWA is traditionally active it should also nominate the German experts for the CEN committees. On a European level, the DWA plays an active role particularly in the technical committees 165 “Wastewater Technology”, and 308 “Characterization of Sludges”. In addition, the DWA is also involved directly in the work of technical committee 334 “Irrigation Systems”. The norms that the DWA has directly influenced can be obtained from the DWA.
As a result of the establishment of the ISO technical committee 224 “Standardisation of Services in the Supply of Drinking Water and Wastewater Disposal” the focus of the cooperation on standardization has also extended to the international level. On a national level, the DIN set up a shadow committee covering this area of interest, in which there are representatives of the DVGW as well as the DWA.
In order to make its mark in the European and international committees and in order to disseminate German expertise and knowledge, a start was made on translating the DWA rules and standards with the beginning of the European standardisation. Meanwhile there is already an English translation of 64 standards and advisory leaflets.

Industrial Wastewater and System-Related Pollution Control

A brief description of the Industrial Wastewater and System-Related Pollution Control main committee

This main committee deals with the following areas:

  • Industrial wastewater,
  • Plants for coping with substances that are hazardous to the water supply and 
  • Measures to protect surface water


The issue of ‘industrial wastewater’ is the oldest area of concern for the “Industrial Wastewaters and Plant Related Water Conservation” main committee. For several years, the emphasis has been on procedures to treat industrial wastewaters with organic and inorganic materials. In approximately 50 different divisions, working groups have been formed that make the recommendations for each specific industry to ensure that hydrological cycles are complete and that the resultant wastewater can be purified. Besides useful information on production processes, the location of occurrence of wastewater is described as well as the detailed constitution of the wastewater for the relevant sector of industry and the existing solutions for treating wastewater in the particular industry. In addition, the committees consider questions related to specific materials, costs and operational methods. The second area deals with the facilities for substances hazardous to water. A great number of companies make use of materials that could be extremely dangerous if they were to be released unintentionally into the environment. It is important to protect both groundwater and surface water from pollution and so the German government and the federal states have drawn up specific requirements for plants operating with materials that are a danger to water.


A brief description of the Law main committee

The Law main committee deals with the analysis and the evaluation of legal developments in the Federal Republic of Germany and in Europe. In this main committee, too, there are a number of sub-committees enabling the entire legal field to be covered.
The sub-committees deal with the following subjects:

  • National and European environmental law
  • Water law
  • Waste legislation
  • Soil conservation law

The findings of the committee are, as a rule, qualified statements towards German and federal state authorities on the new legal developments. In addition, the main committee presents reports and gives lectures at seminars and conferences.

Municipal Wastewater Treatment

A brief description of the Municipal Wastewater Treatment main committee

In the different sub-committees within the "Municipal Wastewater Treatment" main committee, the subjects dealt with include:

  • Requirements of indirect dischargers
  • Procedures for treating wastewater
  • Construction and size of wastewater treatment plants
  • Technical equipment in wastewater treatment plants
  • Automation
  • Staffing requirements at wastewater treatment plants

In addition, special issues are dealt with such as the specific aspects of rural areas as well as new sanitation systems. A further subject dealt with in the main committee is procedures for further treatment of wastewater. These procedures are applied when there is a need to protect surface water above the normal requirement level and there are special requirements on the processes within the wastewater treatment plants.
These can relate both to the degree of purification as well as to questions of hygiene.
Yet another aspect of the work of the "Municipal Wastewater Treatment" main committee is that of "odours".
The scientific findings and the experience gathered in each of the areas of concern have been brought together in the form of standards and advisory leaflets in the DWA rules and standards.

Surface water and soil

A brief description of the Surface Water and Soil main committee

The "Surface Water and Soil" main committee, starting with coverage of comprehensive watershed management, deals with all the current questions of ecology, evaluation, maintenance and design of flowing surface water.
The influence exercised by materials is of prime importance to the "Lakes and Earthworks" committee of specialists as well as to other sub-committees which closely examine the effects on flowing surface water and groundwater. The cross-media tasks are rounded off by measures for land utilization, soil conservation and restoration measures to deal effectively with groundwater and soil pollution. At the same time, these form a link with the "Groundwater and Resources Management" sub-committee, which was developed together with the DVGW.

Waste | Sewage Sludge

Main committee on waste/sewage sludge


The DWA deals with an extensive range of problems in waste management. What is dealt with here is the avoidance, creation, nature and disposal of waste created by households, by the production processes and by the ‘classic' areas of the DWA of the sewage treatment plants (sludge, infrastructure waste products). Particular emphasis is put on the recovery and utilization of sludge and of other waste products. The work results are integrated into the DWA rules and standards and the political field, e.g. as statements to the German government and the EU.

Training and International Cooperation

A brief description of the Training and International Cooperation main committee


The work of the main committee on training and international cooperation can be summarised in the following way:

  • Coordination of the work of the special committees
  • Development and implementation of the training concept
  • Development and implementation of the management directive on training collaboration
  • Exchange of experience
  • Dealing with questions of training policy
  • Cooperation with other associations and organisations
  • International topics, in particular on promoting young professionals and the International Forum
The DWA Water Framework Directive Activities coordination project group

The DWA Water Framework Directive Activities coordination project group

The range of responsibilities of the DWA is influenced by the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) to a considerable extent, resulting in numerous committees of specialists working on themes relevant to water framework directive activities, for example on behalf of the German Working Group of the Federal States on water issues (LAWA). In order to coordinate the activities of the different DWA expert committees and to ensure appropriate internal and external communication, the DWA project group on coordination of water directive framework activities was established.

The Research Association in Engineering Hydrology (FgHW)

The Research Association in Engineering Hydrology (FgHW)

This research association is formed through cooperation between the hydrologists in Germany within the DWA. Its purpose is to bring together the different views of hydrology to foster a partnership between scientific and engineering hydrologists and water management as well as to strengthen individual responsibility for this field. The specialist group is dedicated both to science and to practice. A particular focus is on encouraging the exchange of ideas between geographers, geophysicists, hydrologists, civil engineers, environmental engineers, limnologists, ecologists, water management experts and water engineers.