Last night, Badger Army Ammunition Plant officials told the Town of Sumpter board that local dairy farmers, graziers, stables, and other farm operators would be expected to abandon their existing livestock wells and pay for water from the Army’s proposed municipal water system.
“We expect that farmers would get a bulk rate for water usage,” Army officials said. “We anticipate that farmers would pay a lower rate than homes.”
If approved, the military’s proposal could affect nearly 10,000 acres of agricultural land including the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center farm which owns 2,006 acres in and near Badger. The farm currently houses about 700 dairy animals. The center has proposed building a new research facility on the west side of Badger which would increase its herd size to about 1,000 dairy animals.
Dairy Forage officials said that Army contractors recently asked them to calculate water usage rates for the farm. This number is pending however, on average, a commercial milking operation uses approximately 40 to 50 gallons per day per cow – this includes water used for cleaning parlors and equipment, cooling milk, and drinking.
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) is challenging the military to offer an alternative solution that protects drinking water while still continuing active cleanup of residual contamination that is affecting groundwater, surface water and wetlands.
As proposed, the completion of the proposed rural water system would prompt the phased shut down of a massive groundwater treatment system which uses carbon filtration to clean explosives and other toxins from groundwater before discharge to the Wisconsin River.
If municipal water is approved, the military will also not pursue a bioremediation project which uses naturally occurring microbes to degrade pollutants. A 2008 Army study found that this technology would be successful in reducing the toxicity and mobility of groundwater contaminants found at Badger.
The Army recently completed an Alternative Feasibility Study report which identifies municipal water as its preferred remedy for groundwater problems at Badger, having the lowest direct cost to the military. The report has been submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for review and possible approval.
A final determination by the WDNR is expected within the next 90 days; a formal public comment period will be held during this time. If approved, the next step would be the formation of a rural water district which will include parts of Sumpter, Prairie du Sac and Merrimac townships.