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                                                                    •  -  Ground Water
                                                                         Drinking Water
                              United States            Office of Water  EPA 816-F-98-009
                              Environmental Protection   4602          August 1998
                                               FACT SHEET
                                      CLASS V INJECTION WELLS

                   Proposed Regulatory Requirements As Part of a Comprehensive Management
                                      Strategy for Class V Injection Wells
                     What is a Class V
                     injection well?
                            Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class V
                            Injection Wells are typically shallow disposal
                            systems that are used to place a variety of fluids
                            below the land surface, into or above
                            underground sources of drinking water.
                            Injection wells are regulated by EPA and states
                            through the UIC program in order to protect
                            underground sources of drinking water from
                     Why are Class V
                     injection wells of
                     concern to EPA?
                            EPA estimates there are more than one million
                            Class V injection wells currently in the United
                            States. Class V injection wells are located in
                            every state, especially in unsewered areas where
                            the population is likely to depend on
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                     Are Class V injection
                     wells currently
groundwater for its drinking water source. The
fluids released by certain types of these wells
have a high potential to contain elevated
concentrations of contaminants that may
endanger drinking water.

The 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking
Water Act (SDWA) establish source water
protection as a national priority. The
Amendments require states to establish Source
Water Assessment Programs (SWAPs) that fit
their particular needs and conditions. A SWAP
is complete when states: 1) obtain EPA
approval of the state's strategic approach to
conducting the assessments; 2) delineate the
boundaries of the assessment areas in the state
from which one or more public drinking water
systems receive supplies of drinking water; and
3) identify, to the extent practical, the origins of
regulated and certain unregulated contaminants
in the delineated area to determine the
susceptibility of public water systems to such

Consistent with the national priority established
by the 1996 SDWA Amendments, the proposed
Class V rule, 40 CFR 144, Subpart G -
Requirements for Owners and Operators of
Class V Injection Wells, focuses on high-risk
Class V injection wells in source water
protection areas, that are known to pose the
greatest threat to underground sources of
drinking water:

    •  motor vehicle waste disposal wells;
    •  industrial waste disposal wells; and
    •  large-capacity cesspools.

The proposed Class V regulation would affect
the owners and operators of these wells in
source water protection areas delineated for
community water systems and non-transient
non-community water systems that rely on at
least one ground water source.

Class V injection wells are  regulated by the UIC
program, whose governing  regulations were
promulgated under the authority of Part C of the
SDWA. Under the existing federal regulations,
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                     What are the proposed
Class V injection wells are "authorized by rule"
(40 CFR 144), which means they do not require
a permit if they do not endanger underground
sources of drinking water and comply with other
UIC program requirements.

The conditions of the rule authorization are
twofold: first, basic inventory information about
the Class V injection well must be submitted to
EPA or the state primacy agency; second, the
Class V injection well must be constructed,
operated, and closed in a manner which protects
underground sources of drinking water. EPA or
a state primacy agency may ask for additional
information or require a  permit in order to
ensure that ground water quality is adequately
protected. Further, many UIC primacy state
programs have additional prohibitions or
permitting requirements  for certain types of
Class V injection wells.

As the first step in the strategy for Class V
injection well management, EPA is proposing to
regulate three types of UIC Class V wells in
Source Water Protection Areas for community
and non-transient non-community water
systems that use groundwater as follows:

   1. Large-capacity Cesspools
         0 New cesspools would be prohibited
         ° Existing cesspools would be phased
           out over 5 years
   2. Industrial Waste Disposal Wells
         ° Would be prohibited from
           exceeding drinking water standards
           or other health-based limits at the
           point of injection
         0 Must meet drinking water standards
           within 90 days of the completion of
           its local SWAP
   3. Motor Vehicle Waste Disposal Wells
         ° Two options are being
           co-proposed: a) ban motor vehicle
           wells completely; or b) owners
           would be allowed to receive a
           waiver from the ban and apply for a
           permit that would require waste to
           meet drinking water standards at
           the point of injection
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CLASS V INJECTION WELLS                                                

                                                          ° Must close well or apply for a
                                                            waiver within 90 days of the
                                                            completion of its local SWAP
                                                            (states may grant a one-year

                                                 If states do not complete their SWAP by the
                                                 extended deadline of May 2003 — these
                                                 requirements would apply statewide.

                     ,—__vr_—.	__.	,   jn August 1995, the Administrator signed a
                                                 notice of proposed rulemaking. In this notice,
                     Didn't EPA propose        EPA proposed not to adopt additional federal
                     regulations for Class V     regulations for any types of Class V injection
                     injection wells in 1995?     wells. Instead, EPA proposed to address the
                                                 risks posed by certain wells using existing
                                                 authorities and a Class V management strategy
                                                 designed to (1) speed up the closure of
                                                 potentially endangering wells; and (2) promote
                                                 the use of best management practices to ensure
                                                 that other Class V injection wells of concern do
                                                 not endanger underground sources of drinking

                                                 In 1995, EPA received many comments from
                                                 some states and industries that use Class V
                                                 injection wells that supported the proposal to
                                                 not impose more regulations for Class V wells.
                                                 In general, these commenters supported the rule
                                                 because it provided maximum flexibility to
                                                 states to use existing authorities to address
                                                 high-risk site specific factors. However, EPA
                                                 also received a number of comments that raised
                                                 concerns about the proposal, primarily from
                                                 states and an environmental group. In particular,
                                                 several commenters questioned whether a UIC
                                                 program without additional requirements for
                                                 high-risk well types, including Class V
                                                 industrial waste disposal wells and cesspools,
                                                 could prevent endangerment to drinking water
                                                 sources as required by the SDWA.

                                                 The 1995 approach proposed to address all
                                                 Class V injection wells regardless of the level  of
                                                 risks they pose to underground sources of
                                                 drinking water, with one regulatory approach,
                                                 and did not provide a clear set of regulatory
                                                 requirements for different categories of wells
                                                 based on their level of risk. As a result, the
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                     Why are the new
                     regulations being
proposed rule did not adequately address
high-risk wells that threaten public drinking
water supplies. EPA now believes that specific
regulatory requirements are necessary to control
the risks posed by industrial and motor vehicle
waste disposal wells, and large-capacity
cesspools in delineated source water protection

EPA believes that it is necessary to establish
more specific minimum standards for certain
high risk wells. In addition to establishing these
minimum standards, the revised Class V UIC
regulations will:

   •  satisfy the requirements under the SDWA
      Section  1421, which require the
      Administrator to publish proposed
      regulations for state UIC programs
   •  integrate UIC regulations with the new
      programs for source water protection
   •  fulfill certain EPA obligations under a
      1997 court decree.
                     What about the other
                     types of Class V
                     injection wells?
Other types of Class V injection wells are not
covered under the current proposal because
more information is needed to determine
whether additional federal regulation for these
other well types is necessary, and if so what that
additional regulation would entail. Examples of
well types currently under study include:
agricultural drainage; storm water drainage;
large-capacity septic systems; and, geothermal
wells. As the second step in the strategy, EPA is
undertaking further study to assess risks, fill
existing information gaps, and provide a factual
basis for any further regulatory action. For
information about the study, contact Anhar
Karimjee at (202) 260-3862 (Email:
                     How do I get more
The Proposed Revisions to the Underground
Injection Control Regulations for Class V
Injection Wells were published in the Federal
Register on July 29, 1998 (63 FR 40586). The
proposed regulation is written in the "plain
English" format.

For more information, contact the Safe Drinking
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                    Can the public provide
                    comments on the
                    proposed rule?
         Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 (email: or Robyn
         Delehanty at (202) 260-1993 (Email:

         The proposal asks for comments on a number of
         variations to the proposed approach for these
         well types.  These include, applicability to
         Primacy States, linkage with SWPA and the
         well types chosen for regulation, and other
         points that might affect you. We recommend
         that you read the preamble carefully and
         consider submitting comments. EPA originally
         accepted public comments on the proposed
         regulation until September 28, 1998. The
         Agency has now reopened the comment period
         until November 30, 1998. Address written
         comments to the UIC Class V, W-98-5
         Comment Clerk, Water Docket (MC-4101);
         U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 401 M
         Street, SW, Washington, DC 20460. Comments
         may be submitted electronically to
         o w-docketffiepamail. epa. go v.
 Office     Comments
of Water
                                        Revised November 9, 1999
                           Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water
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