United States
   Environmental Protection
   Agency	'
Off ice of Water
April 2001

   EPA Proposes to Continue with its Existing Approach
   for Managing Class V Injection Wells

   April 2001
Septic Tank
                                        Septic Tank

                                      Dry Well

What is a Class
V injection well?
What are Class
V injection wells
used for?
A well is any bored, drilled, or driven shaft, or dug hole that is deeper than wide at its
widest surface dimension; an improved sinkhole; or a subsurface fluid distribution

Typically, Class V injection wells are shallow "wells," such as septic systems and
drywells, used to place nonhazardous fluids directly below the land surface.  However,
Class V wells can be deep, highly sophisticated wells. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) estimates there are more than 650,000 Class V wells in the
United States. Class V wells are located in every state, especially in unsewered areas
where the population is likely to depend on groundwater for its drinking water source.

Class V wells are a convenient and inexpensive means to dispose of a variety of
nonhazardous fluids. Some examples of Class V wells are agricultural drainage wells,
storm water drainage wells, large capacity septic systems, sewage treatment effluent
wells, spent brine return flow wells, mine backfill wells, aquaculture waste disposal
wells, solution mining wells, in-situ fossil fuel recovery wells, special drainage wells,
experimental wells, aquifer remediation wells, geothermal electric power wells,
geothermal direct heat wells, heat pump/air conditioning return flow wells, saltwater
intrusion barrier wells, aquifer recharge and aquifer storage and recovery wells,
subsidence control wells, and industrial wells.  For facilities that generate
nonhazardous wastes, Class V wells provide for disposal when there is no access to a
sewer system. Class V wells are also an alternative to discharges to surface water.

The effective management of Class V wells is vital because of their large number, the
wide variety of fluids discharged into them, and because most accessible fresh water
is stored underground in aquifers. Aquifers serve as drinking water sources for 86
percent of public water systems in the United States.  These aquifers also supply
private drinking water and agricultural wells, feed our lakes, and recharge pur streams
and rivers, particularly during dry periods.
What federal
apply to Class V
injection wells
All Class V wells are regulated by Underground Injection Control (UIC) Programs, and
states and EPA Regions already have the authority to prevent any Class V well from
endangering underground sources of drinking water. Current federal requirements
prohibit any injection activity that may endanger underground sources of drinking water
(40 CFR Part 144).  Also, the current federal regulations require all owners and
operators of Class V wells to provide inventory information (location, legal contact,
nature of the injection activity, etc.) to their state UIC authority.

In December 1999, EPA published new requirements for large capacity cesspools and
motor vehicle waste disposal wells, two types of Class V wells. New and existing large
capacity  cesspools and new motor vehicle waste disposal wells are  banned
nationwide.  Existing motor vehicle waste disposal wells are banned in groundwater
protection areas and other state-designated sensitive groundwater areas.  However,
owners and operators of existing motor vehicle waste disposal wells may seek waivers
from the  ban and apply for permits that would allow them to continue operating their
wells, provided the waste meets drinking water standards at the point of injection.

What is EPA's
notice of
In September 1999, EPA completed The Class V Underground Injection Control Study,
a comprehensive study of most types of Class V wells. The Study consisted of two
major components: (1) information collection, which involved a comprehensive
literature search, state and EPA regional data collection,  requests to the public for
data, and peer review; and (2) inventory modeling to estimate the number of storm
water drainage wells and large capacity septic systems, two types of wells believed to
be widespread but for which adequate inventory information was particularly lacking.

Today's proposed determination addresses all the Class  V well types not addressed in
the 1999 final rule. EPA proposes that existing federal regulations for Class V wells
are adequate to protect drinking water supplies, and that additional federal UIC
regulations are not needed at this time to prevent Class V wells from endangering
underground sources of drinking water. This proposed determination is based on the
Agency's evaluation of the data collected as part of The Class V Underground Injection
Control Study, information on industrial wells, and other information placed in the
public docket for comment.

Nevertheless, this determination does not end EPA's obligations, requirements, and
actions to prevent Class V wells from endangering underground sources of drinking
water. Class V UIC Program Directors have many obligations and authorities under
the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to ensure the protection of  USDWs. The Agency
will continue to meet these obligations and implement these authorities for all Class V
What is EPA's
overall plan for
managing the
risks posed by
Class V
injection wells?
EPA's management plan for Class V injection wells includes the following major

  1.  Implement Existing Class V Regulations An ongoing effort by state and EPA
     UIC Programs to implement existing regulations:

         Identification of Class V facilities
         Effective and appropriate use of existing regulatory authorities such as
         permitting, enforcement actions, and wells closure
         Providing increased technical assistance to bring endangering wells into
         EPA will continue to develop toote and work cooperatively with states to
         ensure that well owners and operators remain in compliance

 2. Implement the New Regulations An intense state and EPA effort to implement
    the Class V "Phase 1" Rule, promulgated in December of 1999, which addresses
    motor vehicle waste disposal  wells and large capacity cesspools through:

         Technical Assistance
         Compliance Assistance

What Is EPA's
overall plan for
managing the
risks posed by
Class V
injection wells?
 3.  Educate Well Operators An ongoing outreach effort by state and EPA UIC
    Programs to educate operators regarding their responsibilities under federal and
    state requirements, and provide information on best management practices.

4.  Exploring Non-regulatory Approaches A continuous effort by EPA to work
    closely with targeted industries that may use Class V injection wells, to establish
    voluntary standards and practices to protect public health.

5.  Preparing for Future Actions Today's proposed determination does not
    preclude future action under our UIC authority if the Agency determines that
    additional regulatory action is needed.  In the normal course of program
    operations, EPA will continue to work with states, industries, and environmental
    organizations to collect and evaluate data on Class V wells and their risks.
How do I get
For more information, contact the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791
(email: hotline-sdwa@epamail.eDa.gov).  You can also get well-specific fact sheets
and other information on Class V wells, including information on the Class V Rule from
the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/classv.html. For technical
questions contact Joan Farrelly at farrellv.ioan@.epa.qov (email address).
How can I
comment on the
EPA will accept public comments on the proposed determination until July 6, 2001.
Address written comments to the UIC Class V, W-98-5 Comment Clerk, Water Docket
(MC-4101); U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20460. Comments may be submitted electronically to ow-
docket(5).epamail. epa.gov.