Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Policy Studies


Dr. Caitlin Dyckman

Committee Member

Dr. Jeffrey Allen

Committee Member

Dr. Catherine Mobley

Committee Member

Dr. Bruce Ransom


This study analyzes the public's role in the regional water planning process that took place in the State of Georgia from 2009 to 2011. Specifically, this dissertation analyzes the extent to which a 'consensus-based' water planning process occurred by 1) examining the public participation plans that governed how the public was to contribute to the plan and policy formation, and 2) analyzing the public comments that were submitted at public meetings and commenting periods. By examining the participation plans and public comments, this study revealed the institutional, policy, legislative, and planning structures that influenced public participation in the regional water planning process. This study found that the State of Georgia intended for the public to be a part of the water planning process, but the public's role was not particularly collaborative or inclusive. The literature review, theoretical model, and the rubric for assessing the public participation plans all illustrated what scholars view as the 'ideal' for participation. The examination of the water planning process, however, revealed systematic issues with public participation, which resulted from institutional design, facilitator roles, power-sharing, politics, public participation structuring, and process facilitation. Suggested mandates to improve future public participation in water planning are included at the end of this study.