Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution and Eutrophication: A Survey of Environmental Responsibility in the Federal System and Case Study of the Chautauqua Lake Watershed, New York State

  • John N Haskell Peabody College and the College of Arts and Science


This report is concerned with nutrient pollution in Chautauqua Lake from agricultural nonpoint sources (NPS) and the policies that have formed at all levels of the federal system to address this problem in public water bodies. The analysis will be helpful to a national policy audience concerned with NPS policy efficiency and effectiveness, especially with regards to agricultural sources. It will also be of special use to lake mangers and state/local policymakers who want the NPS policy problem demystified so they can make better, clearer decisions for managing their lakes, rivers and streams. For this latter audience, the paper will survey how NPS pollution has been addressed in other watersheds, what policies have been effective or ineffective, and what financial and technical support are available from federal and state administrations for watershed management.

Federal, state and local NPS policy players interact with and influence each other to produce a wide spectrum of policy solutions for impaired watersheds. Ultimately, however, federal and state policies protect only a small percentage of polluted watersheds, and local citizens and authorities are often left unsupported to bear the responsibility of pollution prevention and cleanup without the required technical expertise or financial resources. When federal executives or states fail to protect polluted watersheds, it is implicit and necessary that local authorities coordinate horizontally across municipalities or counties to centralize watershed management debates and decision-making; however, effective watershed management plans also require local authorities to initiate and sustain vertical coordination with state and federal administrations that can help provide the requisite resources.

While some state executives have expanded the coverage of their watershed management programs, this expansion has been far too limited and slow to stem the natural acceleration of NPS pollution damages. Local authorities (within affected watersheds or bordering water bodies) cannot assume, nor wait for, federal or state leadership when the problem worsens beyond a critical level. Watershed management must come from organic leadership, marshaling local, state and federal resources to begin sustainable, comprehensive remediation.

Author Biography

John N Haskell, Peabody College and the College of Arts and Science
John Haskell is senior Vanderbilt University completing a dual-degree program in Human and Organizational Development(B.S. with a concentration in Public Policy) and Economics (B.A.). John spent a semester of his freshman year studying the hydrologic and geologic nature of nonpoint source pollution and two semesters of his sophomore year studying nonpoint source pollution policy, which culminated in this environmental policy analysis. As a summer resident of the Chautauqua Institution, the environmental issues of Chautauqua Lake held both academic and personal interest. His more recent topical interests include areas where economics and public policy overlap. These include the modeling of economic value and impacts of water resources to their respective regions, and studying the savings behavior of low-income, metropolitan households. John was recently retained by the Nashville Wealth Building Alliance to perform research on the Earned-Income Tax Credit, its economic impact to the region, and its suitability as a vehicle for low-income household savings. John will begin work in Washington, DC this fall as a research analyst for a private-sector think-tank. He aspires to attend graduate school in economic development, public policy or business after acquiring necessary work experience. Environmental policymaking and advocacy, however, will always remain one of his top concerns.
How to Cite
HASKELL, John N. Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution and Eutrophication: A Survey of Environmental Responsibility in the Federal System and Case Study of the Chautauqua Lake Watershed, New York State. Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal, [S.l.], v. 3, sep. 2007. ISSN 1555-788X. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 aug. 2019. doi:
Humanities and Social Sciences


environmental policy; watershed management; environmental law; nonpoint source pollution; eutrophication; agricultural pollution; agricultural policy; environmental law and federalism