RAMP Information Paper No. 17



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed changes to the Class V Underground Injection Control (UIC) regulations on 29 July 1998 (63 Federal Register 40585). The purpose of the proposed regulations is to protect the quality of existing and potential underground sources of drinking water (USDW) by minimizing or eliminating the threat posed by groundwater contamination from Class V injection wells. The new regulations expand upon existing regulatory requirements in the UIC Program, place new restrictions on the use of three types of Class V wells, or prevent their use in areas where USDWs are located. The three categories of Class V underground injection wells affected by the proposed regulations are:

Parties affected by this proposed regulation are those which own or operate a Class V underground injection well. The new/proposed regulation will affect Army installations where Class V wells are currently in use or are proposed for future waste management purposes. The major components of the proposed regulations are:

The proposed EPA regulations governing Class V underground injection wells will have an effect on the use and operation of Class V wells on Army installations. Once the new rule goes into effect in 1999, the Army should conduct a survey of all installations to locate and inventory all existing Class V wells. Specific areas of concern are facilities used for motor vehicle maintenance, vehicle washracks, organizational maintenance shops, industrial building drywells or sumps, underground septic tank/leach field systems, and cesspools serving more than 20 individuals per day. The regulations will result in additional financial and paperwork burdens only at installations where Class V wells exist for waste liquid disposal. These will include the cost of preparing plugging and abandonment plans, inventory activities, permitting, monitoring and testing, reporting and record keeping, well closure, and remediation. The Army will also need to check with each respective state to determine the status of the Source Water Assessment Program which drives schedules and certain milestones for the implementation of the proposed Class V UIC regulations.


28 September 1998 Public comments due to EPA
August 1999 Rule finalized
October 1999 Rule effective in EPA Direct Implementation (DI) Programs
August 2000 Rule effective in State Primacy Programs


Underground injection wells are man-made or improved holes in the ground that are used to dispose of a wide variety of liquids, including industrial waste, oilfield brine, sanitary wastes, and storm water runoff. A well is defined by EPA as a bored, drilled, or driven shaft, or a dug hole, with a depth greater than the largest surface dimension. EPA has categorized underground injection wells into 5 classes or groupings which are defined in Section V, subsection A of the Preamble to the proposed regulation (See Attachment 1). The classes are based on the type of injected liquid or fluid waste, the hydrogeological setting, and the depth of the well. Class V wells are those underground injection wells not included in the other classes that are used to inject generally non-hazardous liquids into or above a USDW. The term "injection wells" is used to identify structures used for subsurface emplacement of fluids and it should be noted that for some wells, particularly in the Class V category, that fluids are introduced into the subsurface through passive infiltration rather than from forced injection.

Underground sources of drinking water were afforded protection under the 1986 Amendments to the SDWA through specific groundwater protection programs, including the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. Under the UIC Program, EPA was given the authority to regulate all types of underground injection wells, including those affected by the proposed regulation. Most Class V wells are authorized, provided they do not threaten USDWs and they meet certain minimum requirements. However, EPA has determined that some types of Class V wells, particularly the three types affected by this regulation, may pose a high risk of environmental damage or hazard to USDWs and should be restricted or banned.


Class V underground injection wells exist on U.S. Army installations, though information is limited to a few projects requesting funding in the environmental project requirement (EPR) summary. Class V underground injection wells that are known to or may exist on Army installations include storm water retention basins, underground septic systems with drain fields, organization maintenance shop sumps and drain systems, vehicle wash facilities, outdoor vehicle washracks, vehicle lift sumps and work bay sumps, abandoned wells, and cesspools. The specific number and location of wells that would be affected by this proposed regulation is unknown.

EPA-proposed amendments to the existing Class V UIC regulations may impact Army actions if the following conditions exist on any Army installation:

It should be noted that under the proposed revisions to the UIC regulations, all waste waters discharged via Class V underground injection wells which do not impact underground drinking water sources may still be required to comply with initial, quarterly, and annual reporting requirements and meet state and EPA MCLs. The cost of retrofitting existing Class V wells, closing down existing wells that are in violation of the proposed regulations, or maintaining compliance with the UIC Program may be significant for installations which currently do not meet the regulations. In isolated cases, disruption to installation mission activities may result from construction activities required to upgrade existing wells. Specific potential effects of the proposed regulations on installations may include the need to:

Inventory each installation to determine the number, type, and location of all Class V underground injection wells. States may require an assessment and inventory of all Class V wells, even those not included in the proposed regulations.

The EPA has estimated the labor effort required to implement some of the requirements for each Class V well as follows: 22 hours to prepare permit application; 5 hours per year for reporting and records management; 1 hour to draw monitoring sample; and five hours to prepare and submit a closure report. The level of effort required to plan and carry out well abandonment is unknown. These are estimates only and may vary considerably by installation. The variation may be especially high for installations that currently lack good documentation of sumps, pits, dry wells, cesspools, or other subsurface structures that may meet the regulatory definition of a Class V well. The EPA estimate of labor needs is presented in Attachment 2.


42 U.S.C. 300f et seq. Safe Drinking Water Act.

EPA. 1998. Underground Injection Control Program, Information Collection Request. U.S. EPA, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, Washington, DC. May 21, 1998.

40 CFR Parts 144, 145, and 146. Class V Injection Wells Underground Injection Control Regulations, Revisions; Proposed Rule, July 29, 1998.


EPA Classes of Underground Injection Wells

 Class I - Injection wells that are technologically advanced and used to inject large volumes of hazardous wastes, non-hazardous industrial wastes, and/or municipal wastes into deep, isolated rock formations that are separated from the lowermost USDW by many layers of impermeable clay and rock.

 Class II - Injection wells that are associated with oil and gas production. Most of the injected liquid wastes is brine produced during oil and gas extraction. This class also includes wells used to inject fluids that enhance oil recovery and wells used for the storage of liquid hydrocarbons.

 Class III - Injection wells used to inject fluids for the extraction of certain minerals, such as salt, sulfur, and uranium. These wells inject super-hot steam, water, or other fluids into mineral formations, which is them pumped to the surface and extracted. The fluid is treated and reinjected into the same formation.

 Class IV - Injection wells used to dispose of hazardous or radioactive wastes into or above a USDW. The use of these wells has been banned by the EPA under the UIC Program because they directly threaten the quality of USDWs.

 Class V - Injection wells not included in the other classes that are used to inject generally non-hazardous liquids into or above a USDW. These wells range from technologically advanced wastewater disposal systems to "low tech" holes in the ground. They are typically shallow and depend upon gravity to drain or inject liquid waste into the ground. Typical Class V wells include stormwater drainage wells, geothermal return wells, domestic wastewater disposal wells, septic systems and sumps used in various types of industrial/commercial businesses, and wells used in groundwater remediation projects.


Paperwork Burden for Operators of Class V Wells



Labor Requirement Estimate

Preparation of plugging and abandonment plans

Labor estimate unknown.


Inventory Activities

One hour (per well) required to prepare and submit inventory information to the appropriate regional EPA or state primacy agency.


Initial Permitting/Start-up

Class V operators will spend 22 hours on permit application activities including a description of activities requiring a permit, inventory information, topographic maps, and a plugging and abandonment plan.


Permit Modifications

Up to two hours needed per modification to update permit.



When required, one hour per sampling event per Class V well will be needed to draw an injectate sample for laboratory analysis.


Reporting and Recordkeeping

Operators of Class V wells will submit monitoring reports, either quarterly or semi-annually. Each report will require one hour to prepare and one hour to maintain monitoring data annually.



Approximately five hours will be required to prepare and submit a plugging and abandonment report to the appropriate agency (s).