For more than 20 years, the U.S. Army has assured area residents that water wells east of Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River are not vulnerable to groundwater contamination emanating from Badger Army Ammunition Plant.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now says that this route of exposure is going to be investigated but cautions that there is no current or immediate risk to human health for residents on either side of the lake and river. 

Nonetheless, sampling of high capacity wells and residential wells located on the east side of the Wisconsin River near the Village of Prairie du Sac is justified, according to a professional consultant hired by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger.

“The most effective manner of ensuring the health and safety of residents and consumers on the east side of the river is to collect and analyze groundwater samples,” said hydrogeologist Lori Huntoon. “It is recommended that groundwater from wells on the east side of the Wisconsin River be analyzed for VOCs, all isomers of DNT, metals, and arsenic, at a minimum.  Wells evaluated should include irrigation, commercial, and residential wells.” 

Drinking water wells on the east side of the river were last tested by the Army in 1990. This testing was limited to the three contaminants of concern at the time: trichloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride, and chloroform.  Wells were tested at the owner’s request and no contamination was detected. The Army has never tested wells east of the river for the explosive DNT and other more recent contaminants of concern.

“Multiple high capacity wells are located directly downgradient of the southern contaminant plume on the east side of the river,” Huntoon added.  “Taking into consideration significant pumping from these irrigation wells and other private wells, transport of contaminants that could potentially affect water quality for receptors located east of the river cannot be ruled out.” 

The WDNR declined to meet with CSWAB to discuss these concerns and the need for public outreach.  Members of the local Restoration Advisory Board have asked the U.S. Army for a public informational meeting on groundwater quality.  Badger officials said that a meeting is planned for sometime this summer.

CSWAB is recommending that requests for well testing be submitted in writing or by email to the U.S. Army at Badger Army Ammunition Plant.  Copies should be sent to the WDNR and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

The appropriate contacts are:

Joan Kenney, Installation Director, Badger Army Ammunition Plant, S7560 Highway 12, North Freedom, WI 53951 or   

Will Myers, WI Department of Natural Resources, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road, Madison, WI 53711 or  

Gregory Rudloff, USEPA Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Mail Code: LU-9J, Chicago, IL 60604-3507 or

Huntoon Technical Memo April 2013

Groundwater Contaminant Plume Map by Army