Successful Farming Relies on Clean Groundwater

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The U.S. Army has identified more than 10,000 acres in and around Badger Army Ammunition Plant that are at risk for groundwater contamination in the future, likely for decades. While the municipal water system proposed by the Army could provide an alternate source of drinking water for rural residents living in Sumpter, Prairie du Sac, and Merrimac townships, local farms and dairies will continue to rely on their own wells to successfully run their operations.

At last night’s public meeting, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) and other members of the Badger Restoration Advisory Board asked Army officials to prepare a report explaining how the military will assure that farm wells near Badger will be safe for livestock, dairy operations, food crops, irrigation, and other agricultural activities. Specific questions included the Army’s long-term responsibilities for testing agricultural wells, replacing affected wells, and installation and maintenance of water treatment systems. An assessment of potential impacts to farm property values was also requested.

Several years ago, contamination was detected in a new livestock well that was installed by the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center inside Badger. When testing by the Army detected levels of the explosive DNT at the groundwater enforcement standard, the military provided the farm with a carbon filter system. USDA officials said that the filter has been effective in treating the water however as a precaution this well is used only as a water source for heifers and not lactating cows. The Army has provided the farm with a second back-up filter but once it is used up the military will not provide the farm with any more filters, USDA said.

Members of the Badger Restoration Advisory Board include area residents and representatives of town, village, county, and tribal government. The board’s mission is to advise the military and regulators on environmental cleanup activities at Badger. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Monday June 20 at Badger Army Ammunition Plant beginning at 6:30 pm. The public is invited to attend.

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