Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Leisl Carr-Childers


Water--Government policy--Iowa;


Clean, usable fresh water is a precious and valuable resource, but it is one that we often mistreat and misuse. Surface water in particular is extremely vulnerable to human actions and influences; nowhere is this more apparent than in agricultural states like Iowa, where nonpoint-source pollution (runoff) has a dramatic effect on our rivers, lakes, and streams. However, despite this continuing decline in the quality of Iowa’s water, there exists very little public policy aimed at dealing with the problems of nutrient contamination and other forms of nonpoint-source pollution. Furthermore, what policy does exist is either ineffective or insufficient. The goal of this research was to attempt to discern why this gap in Iowa’s public policy exists. By examining current and historical factors associated with policymaking in Iowa, it became possible to gain a detailed understanding of why such a lack of effective and sufficient policy exists. Operating on the assumption that in order to fix a problem it is first necessary to accurately comprehend what is wrong, this research identified two broad “primary culprits” behind the lack of effective policy in Iowa: economics and culture. And although much research has been done into various facets of this topic before, a holistic, wide-angle view of the problem both proved most appropriate for accurately assessing the problem and more effective in providing for policy implications that might have otherwise been missed.

Date of Award



Department of History

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (37 pages)



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