Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Graham A. Tobin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Fenda Akiwumi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kamal Alsharif, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher Meindl, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Burrell E. Montz, Ph.D.


Water Sustainability, Austin, Fort Worth, San Francisco, San Jose


This dissertation works to create a clearer understanding of sustainability in water policy. Current water policy in four US cities was compared to a matrix of recommended sustainability themes that have been presented in the literature to determine the extent of which these themes have been implemented into water policy. To best analyze policy for sustainability it is necessary to look at the policy of cities that are considered sustainable. This was determined by a city’s inclusion in “Most Sustainable US Cities” lists. The two cities that best represented sustainability were Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA. The research also included cities that are not considered leaders in sustainability but are similar in demographics, population, and state; these two cities are Fort Worth, TX and San Jose, CA. Finally, the same matrix was applied to the state policy to establish how state policy influences city sustainability.

The results of this study add to the current knowledge in this field as it contributes a current analysis of sustainable water policy. The final findings compile the themes into a sustainability pyramid framework of common, uncommon, and rare sustainability. It appears that the ‘sustainable’ cities have included more uncommon and rare themes than the traditional cities, while common themes are implemented across the board. Common themes are those that are traditionally associated with sustainability – themes like conservation, reuse, and reducing pollutant impact on water sources. In order increase sustainability, cities should apply more of the themes from the top of the pyramid.