Scientist Forced to Suspend Water Testing Due to Government Shutdown

On December 22, 2018, managers of the Shenandoah National Park informed scientists that they would have to suspend the Shenandoah Watershed Study during the partial government shutdown. The study, which began in 1979, tracks long-term trends “in concentrations of sulfate, ANC [i.e., acid neutralizing capacity], and other acid-base constitutes of streams” in the Shenandoah National Park and surrounding areas. This is achieved through weekly testing of water samples from the streams. Since the start of the partial government shutdown, however, scientists have been prevented from accessing the Shenandoah National Park to collect water samples. According to one of the scientists involved, Dr. Jeff Atkins from Virginia Commonwealth University, this has resulted in “the biggest gap” in sample data in the study’s 40 year history. Dr. Atkins has expressed concern that the lack of data will “be really detrimental” to the study as there is now “a hole in the data set.”