Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professors Sandra B. Zellmer and Ann Bleed. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Christina M. Hoffman


Nebraska, like many regions around the world, is faced with the challenge of adapting to a new era in water management. Increasing demands for water resources, mounting concerns over threatened and endangered species, and obligations to abide by interstate water allocation agreements have motivated Nebraska to revisit traditional water management approaches. However, although Nebraska’s water management institutions have undergone much change, little research exists on the influence these changes have had on the ability of water institutions to successfully manage water allocations. This research (1) qualitatively explores the perspectives and experiences of stakeholders in the overappropriated region of the Platte River Basin (PRB), Nebraska, to gain an in-depth understanding of how the current water management system is working, (2) develops and implements a survey instrument to quantitatively measure and assess how well the newly devised management system is working as seen by water users in the PRB, (3) generates a comprehensive assessment into the characteristics that either promote or impede successful water management within the basin, and (4) uses Nebraska’s complex water resource governance system to build upon established principles of successful common-pool resource governance. This research provides information necessary to continue to improve management efforts within the basin and throughout the State, and serves as a fundamental baseline assessment from which to measure improvements moving forward. Improving resource managers’ ability to learn about and better understand the implications of management approaches and policies can lead to more successful water resource institutions.

Advisors: Sandra B. Zellmer and Ann Bleed