Spotlight on a WNPJ Member Group - Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger

The Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) is an organization whose overall goal is to build a sustainable future which will preserve, and where possible, restore the integrity of natural systems – including soils, water, air, and biological diversity.  

CSWAB’s mission is to: (read more)

  • support, unify and strengthen citizens concerned about the safety of the water resources in and around the Badger Army Ammunition Plant,
  • to ensure the cleanup of contamination caused by careless disposal of toxic waste and,
  • to exercise means, as necessary, to ensure that water resources are completely free of toxins.

The non-profit organization CSWAB formed in southwest Wisconsin, motivated to work for a guarantee that the Pentagon would commit to the total clean-up of the toxins that endanger human and ecological health. The environmental clean-up is no small task – the 7,400-acre Badger Army Ammunition Plant would be largest of such projects. 

CSWAB also has two campaigns that the organization is particularly passionate about. The first of these is the CEASE FIRE campaign, which seeks to protect human health and the environment by calling to the immediate implementation of safer alternatives to open air burning, detonation and combustion of military munitions. CSWAB suggests alternatives that include waste prevention to the greatest possible extent, the release of toxic emissions and pollutants, and advance the principles of economic justice.

An additional campaign that the Citizens for Safe Water Around Wisconsin is the PFAS Campaign; which is a coalition of organizations based in Wisconsin working together to prevent exposures to PFAS via drinking water and other pathways. PFAS, or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a large group of man-made toxic chemicals used to make consumer products resistant to water, grease, or stains. Research has illuminated the fact that there are links between PFAS exposure and cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis and pregnancy-induced hypertension. 

The Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger helps keep the community informed by keeping them up to date about their current issues. With regular updates on different communal concerns, CSWAB tackles issues ranging from the desire to ensure deadlines for compliance regarding groundwater contamination, advisories for toxic chemicals in the water and opposition to contamination, among other issues. One of the best ways to help support the Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger is by donating your  finances, time and talents to their cause. They also encourage the sharing of action alerts. 

The photo above is from the CSWAB website, taken at the Ho Chunk Land Transfer Ceremony.  Learn more at


An example of the education provided by CSWAB to their SW Wisconsin community follows: 

Badger Groundwater 25,000 Times Safe Standards

CSWAB Wants DNR to Establish Enforceable Timelines for Compliance

On June 2, the U.S. Army submitted a 730-page report to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on potential remedies for groundwater contamination at and near the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant. However, it will easily take at least another 5 years before a final remedy for groundwater is selected and implemented, Army officials said. 

The Army’s site-wide groundwater study identified four separate groundwater contaminant plumes emanating from former hazardous waste disposal sites. Groundwater contamination has migrated several miles offsite, affecting nearby residential areas. The primary contaminants of concern are the toxic explosive dinitrotoluene (DNT) and volatile organic compounds. 

At source areas like the former Propellant Burning Grounds, groundwater is in contact with heavily contaminated subsurface soils. As a result, in September 2020, concentrations of total DNT were detected as high as 1,286.9 μg/L – a concentration that is 25,000 times higher than the WI Groundwater Enforcement Standard of 0.05 μg/L for total DNT.

The Army’s new report describes possible groundwater remedies including monitored natural attenuation (meaning no active treatment), extracting and treating groundwater with activated carbon, injection of emulsified vegetable oil (EVO) to facilitate biodegradation, and others. Construction of a new municipal water system for residential well owners south and east of Badger was eliminated as a possible remedy as the Army does not have authority, the military’s report says.

In a May 10 letter to the DNR, CSWAB asked that the State establish enforceable timelines for compliance with environmental standards, which the agency has previously avoided. With every passing year, groundwater contaminants are migrating further away from source areas and pose an increasing risk to downgradient agricultural wells, residential drinking water wells, and the Lower Wisconsin River at Prairie du Sac, CSWAB wrote.

Enforceable schedules of compliance have been required at other Department of Defense sites around the U.S. including Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (MO), McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (OK), Radford Army Ammunition Plant (VA), and Blue Grass Army Depot (KY).

While the Army’s recent study identifies and evaluates potential remedies for groundwater, it does not recommend or select final cleanup methods. The military’s preferred alternative for each of the four groundwater contaminant plumes will be presented in a Proposed Plan, scheduled to be completed in 2021.  

Private drinking water wells near Badger are currently all safe to use, according to the Army.

Find this article online (including links to source documents) at


Contact Information: 

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)
Contact Person: Laura Olah
Address: E12629 Weigand's Bay So.,Merrimac, WI 53561
Phone: 608-643-3124

Your tax-deductible donation to CSWAB is appreciated.


This week’s Spotlight created by WNPJ volunteer Ambar Cornelio. Thanks, Ambar - and CSWAB for your good work.