Federal Requirements for Class V Wells
On this page:
- What should I do before I begin injecting?
- What happens after I submit the inventory information?
- Are there addtional regulations for large-capacity cesspools and motor vehicle waste disposal wells?
- When would I be prohibited from using my well?
- How do I close my well?
EPA established minimum requirements to prevent injection wells from contaminating underground sources of drinking water (USDWs). In most cases Class V wells are "authorized by rule." "Authorized by rule" means that an injection well may be operated without a permit as long as the owners or operators:
- Submit inventory information to their permitting authority and verify that they are authorized (allowed) to inject. The permitting authority will review the information to be sure that the well will not endanger a USDW.
- Operate the wells in a way that does not endanger USDWs. The permitting authority will explain any specific requirements.
- Properly close their Class V well when it is no longer being used. The well should be closed in a way that prevents movement of any contaminated fluids into USDWs.
After reviewing an owner or operator's inventory information the permitting authority may determine that an individual permit is necessary to prevent USDW contamination.
What should I do before I begin injecting?
If you plan to construct a new Class V well, your first step is to submit inventory information about the well to the underground injection control (UIC) program. The information you need to submit may vary depending on the state you are in. In general you must provide the following basic information:
- Name and location of the facility
- Name and address of a legal contact
- Owner of the property
- Nature and type of injection well(s)
- Operating status of injection well(s)
You may not construct a new large-capacity cesspool or motor vehicle waste disposal well. New wells of these types are banned.
If you have recently discovered that you have an existing Class V well, contact your permitting authority to find out what you must do. Specific requirements may vary from state to state.
- Review UIC inventory reporting forms for owners or operators which are available for download.
- Find out who has primary enforcement authority in your state.
What happens after I submit the inventory information?
Based on the information on the inventory form, the UIC program will do one of the following:
Determine that you are authorized to inject
- Some wells are considered to be “authorized by rule” if the owner or operator meets certain requirements. To become rule authorized, the owner or operator of the well must, at a minimum, submit basic inventory information and not endanger USDWs. The authorization expires when the well is properly closed.
Request additional information
- The UIC program director may need additional information to determine if the well may be endangering USDWs. If so, the director will send you a letter explaining what information you need to provide and why.
Require you to obtain a permit
- If the UIC director is concerned that your well will endanger USDWs, you may be required to obtain a permit. The permit would include specific conditions you must meet to ensure your well does not endanger USDWs. For example, the permit may require you to monitor the fluids that go into the well, implement best management practices, and report on this information to the authority.
Require you to close the well
- If the UIC director determines that your well is endangering a USDW, you will be required to close the well. See the sections below for additional information about closing Class V wells.
Are there additional regulations for large-capacity cesspools and motor vehicle waste disposal wells?
In 1999, EPA added new regulations for these types of Class V wells. The new regulations, collectively known as the Class V Rule, help protect ground water from the fluids that are injected into these wells.
The Class V rule:
- Banned large-capacity cesspools nationwide by April 2005
- Phased out existing cesspools by April 2005
- Banned new motor vehicle waste disposal wells nationwide by April 2000
- Required operators of existing motor vehicle waste disposal wells in regulated areas to either close their wells or obtain permits
Owners and operators of large-capacity cesspools and motor vehicle waste disposal wells can read more about specific requirements by clicking on the links provided below.
- Learn more about the ban on large-capacity cesspools.
- Learn more about the ban on motor vehicle waste disposal wells.
When would I be prohibited from using my well?
You may not inject fluids into a well under any of the following conditions:
- You endanger USDWs
- You fail to submit inventory information to your UIC program
- You fail to submit a permit application (if the UIC program tells you to do so)
- You fail to respond to a written request from your UIC program
- You own or operate a motor vehicle waste disposal well that was constructed after April 5, 2000
- Your injection well does not comply with the new requirements for motor vehicle waste disposal wells
- Your well is a large-capacity cesspool (these wells are banned)
How do I close my well?
You may close your well when you are finished using it or if your UIC program requires you to close it. The well must be closed in a way that prevents any contaminated fluids from moving into USDWs during or after closure. This is because any fluids that move into a USDW could endanger the health of the people who drink the water.
When closing the well you must:
- Permanently plug or otherwise close the well in a way that ensures USDWs are protected
- Dispose of or manage any soil, gravel, sludge, liquids, or other materials from or near your well according to all federal, state and local requirements
- Follow any other requirements your UIC program may have
Contact your permitting authority to determine how to best close your well