Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Eric J. Wailes

Committee Member

Brinck Kerr

Second Committee Member

Kent Kovacs


This dissertation is comprised of three essays that examine water management and conservation programs through the context of sustainable development. These essays are distinct case studies of national, state and local policies. Their common approach is that they all use common-pool resources theory to generate specific recommendations for policymaking and water management.

The first essay explores opportunities for developing policy measures to prevent the collapse of the vital irrigation infrastructure in the Aral Sea region. The paper looks at the economic efficiency of various policy options, impacts on the country’s agricultural sector, and the regulations needed to make the cost-sharing irrigation system viable. The results define institutional changes necessary to make reforms feasible. The rationale for policy reform is based on the need to (i) facilitate the transition from a centrally planned agriculture to a market-oriented system; (ii) mediate, if not resolve, land tenure and water management issues; and (iii) analyze the importance of the irrigation infrastructure for sustainable agricultural development.

The second essay examines opportunities for integrating conservation in Arkansas water policy. The paper defines institutional factors and rules-in-use as affecting actions at a state level policy for long-term water management. The findings identify the opportunities for integrating conservation in Arkansas water policy, and the need for re-conceptualizing the nature of state policy towards water resources. It proposes to identify goals and strategies, socioeconomic indicators, and resource indicators to determine if the state is moving toward sustainable water resources, as well as to categorize appropriate management tools.

The third essay examines efforts to protect the environment and ensure adequate water to sustain irrigated agriculture in the Bayou Meto Basin, Arkansas. The paper analyses economic and distributional effects of the project to evaluate the policy outcomes in terms of benefits and costs on different stakeholder groups. The findings show the need for integrated water management and to account for opportunity costs of water, including costs associated with economic and environmental externalities. Kaldor-Hicks tableau displays net benefits and impact on all stakeholders, which can help to identify the right kinds of incentives for stakeholder participation to make the project politically feasible.