Archiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-01 > 1167783708

From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [W-OBITS] KINNERSLEY: David John Kinnersley 2/12/2004
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 00:21:48 -0000

David Kinnersley
Last Updated: 1:30am GMT 17/12/2004
The Telegraph

David Kinnersley, who died on December 2 aged 78, was the founder of Water
Aid, the charity that funds water and sanitation projects in the developing
world ; having been chief executive of the North West Water Authority in the
1970s, Kinnersley later advised Nicholas Ridley on the 1989 privatisation

The United Nations had declared the 1980s to be the international drinking
water supply and sanitation decade, and Kinnersley, then senior economic
adviser to the National Water Council, a supervisory body, attended a
preparatory meeting in New York. Upon his return he called a conference of
representatives of the British water industry and, on January 21 1981, Water
Aid was born. Among other appeals, customers were urged to round up their
bill to the nearest pound in support of Water Aid. By 1997 this method was
raising £800,000 a year, the third largest component of the charity's

Kinnersley was one of the first chief executives of a water authority, and
though initially uncertain about the Thatcher government's privatisation
programme, eventually vowed to make it a success. He was a great fan of
water meters, using his background as an economist to object to the
principle of water companies raising levies based on the rateable values of
users' properties.

"These are not real charges," he once wrote, explaining that they lacked
"any link with volume of service taken by each consumer", but he was -
rightly - pessimistic that there would be any rush to change.

David John Kinnersley was born at Southend, Essex, on May 28 1926. At the
age of 14 he was evacuated to Belper in Derbyshire, where he lodged with two
elderly ladies. He was educated locally before going up to Corpus Christi,
Cambridge, to read Law; but after a break for National Service changed to
Economics, taking a double First.

After graduating in 1950 Kinnersley joined the National Coal Board as
special assistant to Sir James Bowman. He later worked for the UK Atomic
Energy Authority before joining the water industry in 1964 as deputy general
manager of the British Waterways Board.

He was director of the Association of River Authorities, 1970-73, and -
following a Churchill Scholarship that took him to North Carolina in 1973 -
chief executive of the North West Water Authority, serving some seven
million people, where he stayed until 1976. He found himself in trouble at
North West Water when it came to light that the authority - then still
nationalised - had invested in personalised number plates for some of its
other directors. Despite the brief furore, it turned out to be a financially
astute investment.

His first book, Troubled Waters: Rivers, Politics and Pollution (1988), laid
into the "fantasy and rhetoric" and "administrative fudging" of the
Environment Department during water privatisation. In Coming Clean: the
Politics of Water and the Environment (1994) Kinnersley pointed out the
urgent need for the country to invest in its crumbling sewerage
infrastructure and the government's desire to avoid political responsibility
for the price increases that would be required to support the new
investment, but adroitly pointed out: "There's no votes in shit." After
retiring from the National Water Council in 1983 he took a research
fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford, and was later bursar and a fellow of
Mansfield College.

One of his greatest pleasures was the service of lessons and carols from
King's College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve, and he commandeered every radio
and television in the house for it. He also adored the tiny corner of the
River Chess that ran through his garden. He bought a number of early
20th-century paintings, in particular works by Edward Bawden.

In 1950 he married Barbara Fair, whom he met while doing his National
Service. She survives him, as do a son and two daughters.

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