The HSL has its roots in the „Research Group Sontheimer“, where Heinrich Sontheimer continued his scientific activities after his retirement as professor for water chemistry and head of the DVGW research institute at the Engler-Bunte-Institut of the University of Karlsruhe in 1987.
In the early ninetees Heinrich Sontheimer himself suggested to connect it to the newly founded Water Technology Center (TZW). After his death in 1994, this idea had to be translated into life without him. As a tribute to Heinrich Sontheimer, the idea was to establish a research laboratory at the TZW, where young scientists can work on practical problems in the water field. Thus, on November 28, 1995 at the water works "Durlacher Wald" of the Stadtwerke Karlsruhe GmbH the "Heinrich Sontheimer Laboratory for Water Technology (HSL)" was officially opened.
The scientific direction of the HSL is performed by a steering committee consisting of the Managing Director of the TZW, the Technical Director of the Stadtwerke Karlsruhe GmbH, and the advisors of the scientific projects. The organizational and financial affairs regulates the commercial head of the TZW.