The WDNR has asked the Army to expand the sampling program for private wells south and southeast of Badger Army Ammunition Plant in response to new data from monitoring wells along the plant fenceline. The Army will be contacting residents who live near the installation to collect water from their wells to check for the presence of solvents, nitrates, and the explosive dinitrotoluene (DNT).
Late on Wednesday, March 3, the Army received results from monitoring wells sampled during the December 2003 round. Several monitoring wells located along the south boundary of Badger detected DNT in groundwater near the intersection of Keller Road and Highway 78 in Sumpter township. DNT levels were detected at 0.02 and 0.05 ppb (parts per billion). The safe drinking water standard for DNTs is 0.05 ppb.
This is not the first time DNTs have been detected in boundary wells in this part of Badger. DNTs were detected at 0.07 ppb in 2000 and 0.03 ppb in 2002. At the time, WDNR officials believed that the detections were sporadic and therefore did not indicate a potential problem.
In response to recent test results, however, the WDNR has asked the Army to sample private wells located roughly from Gruber’s Grove Bay to the north edge of the village of Prairie du Sac. Wells on either side of Hwy 78 and between Hwy 78 and Lake Wisconsin are in the proposed zone for sampling. The wells are to be sampled for volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), DNTs (and degradation products) and nitrates. Wells adjacent to Gruber’s Grove Bay may also be sampled for ammonia. The nitrate testing is being done to provide this information for homeowners and not because there is a nitrate problem coming from the plant, the WDNR said.
“Groundwater flow directions in the southeast part of Badger and near Highway 78 are complicated due to Lake Wisconsin and the Prairie du Sac dam” said Steve Ales, hydrogeologist with the Wisconsin DNR. “This residential sampling effort responds to the uncertainty in flow direction and possible contaminant location. I don’t think the problem is widespread but want to be cautious and be sure no other homes are affected by contaminants from the Badger plant.”
CSWAB has asked that private well testing continue on a quarterly basis until the full scope of the problem in and around Badger is defined. Given the very low detection level for DNTs, even a very small change in concentration can make a significant difference in terms of public health.
The Army is issuing a press release today and is planning on contacting all homeowners in the zone. Contacts will probably start next week but may take a few weeks to complete. Testing should start sometime in the next month, the WDNR said. Steve Ales, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Hydrogeologist, can be reached at (608) 275-3310.