Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Science & Environmental Policy


he history of the public trust doctrine is important to the foundation of Wisconsin water legislation. The public trust doctrine, based upon English and earlier Roman law, is written in Wisconsin State Constitution and explained in depth in the state statues. The public trust doctrine declares that all navigable waters are to be held forever free in trust for the public. Wisconsin has been known as an initiator in the field of water law because of their unique public trust doctrine. Wisconsin's concern for the stability of its water resources are demonstrated throughout its past court decisions but now with the rapid changes in society will Wisconsin live up to its already established reputation. This a study of the beginning of Wisconsin water law through the public trust doctrine, court cases, and law reviews. I will use the information to investigate where the future of water law will lead Wisconsin and possibly the entire country. In a country where "copy cat" and "follow the leader" are favorite childhood games, one could only hope that Wisconsin will take the lead and usher this country to a new height of environmental protection and consciousness. My capstone addresses the concern for the future of water resources in Wisconsin and how the past influences the decision yet to be made. My goal is to understand the impact of the public trust doctrine on Wisconsin water laws and to understand the importance of strong water resource legislation.


Capstone Project (B.S.) Earth Systems Science and Policy Institute

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