Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Public Policy Leadership

First Advisor

Jody Holland

Relational Format



As American water resources fall under increasing scrutiny, with shortages costing millions of dollars annually, questions about the effectiveness of the policy managing these resources arises. In particular blurred responsibilities and goals generated as a result of the American federalist system raise questions about the nature of the state and federal relationship and the ability of it effectively develop a functioning water policy. To garner an understanding of American federalism, American water policy, and the relationship between them, I utilized a comparative analysis of both the history of water policy and federalism in America. Following this history, I offer an analysis for understanding the state and federal levels of water policy. In this analysis, I argue that the state level evolution of water policy is highly adaptable, and well suited to handle issues associated with supply, demand, and allocation. Contrarily, the federal government is well equipped to deal with interstate resources and issues where benefits are not as easily quantified in market terms. However, as a result of the evolution of federal water policy and trends in federal devolvement, the federal government may be fragmented to the point where it is not able to properly address the inadequacies in the state government's water policies. To remedy this I propose the following three solutions. A) centralize federal legislative and bureaucratic institutions, B) create watershed planning organizations, and C) undertake a National Water Assessment.

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