Underground Injection Control

Overview

UIC

An injection well is used to place fluid underground into porous geologic formations. These underground formations may range from deep sandstone or limestone, to a shallow soil layer. Injected fluids may include water, wastewater, brine (salt water), or water mixed with chemicals.

The Underground Injection Control program consists of six classes of injection wells. Each well class is based on the type and depth of the injection activity, and the potential for that injection activity to result in endangerment of a underground sources of drinking water (USDW).

  • Class I wells are used to inject hazardous and non-hazardous wastes into deep, isolated rock formations.
  • Class II wells are used exclusively to inject fluids associated with oil and natural gas production.
  • Class III wells are used to inject fluids to dissolve and extract minerals.
  • Class IV wells are shallow wells used to inject hazardous or radioactive wastes into or above a geologic formation that contains a USDW. 
  • Class V wells are used to inject non-hazardous fluids underground. Most Class V wells are used to dispose of wastes into or above underground sources of drinking water.
  • Class VI wells are wells used for injection of carbon dioxide (CO2) into underground subsurface rock formations for long-term storage, or geologic sequestration.

The success of the deep well Underground Injection Control (UIC) program in isolating massive volumes of pollutants from underground sources of drinking water and other parts of the ecosystem has led some national policy makers to assume that no additional funding is needed, even though new challenges and responsibilities continue to be added to the program.

Why the UIC Program Matters to Groundwater

Underground injection refers to the placement of fluids into the subsurface through a well bore. The federal UIC Program, designed to prevent contamination of underground sources of drinking water (USDWs), covers wells used to inject a wide range of fluids, including oilfield brines; industrial, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and municipal wastes; and water for solution mining. A “mature" regulatory” program suggests that the major processes are working smoothly, the principal issues are well understood, and significant problems encountered have been solved. While this is the case for Class I, II, III, and IV UIC well types, the Class V part of the UIC program has not kept pace with the rest of the program.

From the Ground Water Report to the Nation

Underground Injection Control - Summary Sheet : Full Chapter

Other Resources

Class V Informational Video

News

California’s RBDMS 3.0: WellSTAR Release 4 Goes Live

The fourth release of California’s RBDMS 3.0 upgrade (WellSTAR - Well Statewide Tracking and Repor...

Events

02/09/2021 – 08/31/2021

Aquifer Storage & Recovery / Managed Aquifer Recharge Webinar:
What's New With the EPA - Reuse, UIC, Stormwater

09/26/2021 – 09/29/2021

The GWPC brings it all together with an in-person multi-day Annual Forum conference in the month of September. The GWPC Annual Forum is the place for attendees to continue the discussion on topics of importance through live sessions, interactive roundtables and discussion groups, and networking opportunities. Registration fees and hotel information will be announced soon.

Publications

09/2020

State of Kansas Class II UIC Program Peer Review

Published September 2020

04/2020

State of California Class II UIC Program Peer Review

This report is a snapshot of the California Class II UIC program as it existed in June 2018. The review team performed an in-depth review of the California UIC Class II program via a review of California laws and regulations, responses to a questionnaire, and a two-day state interview of DOGGR, SWRCB and Regional Water Board staff and management involved in the UIC program.

09/2019

New Mexico Class II UIC Program Peer Review

In September, 2019 the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (OCD) requested that the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) conduct a focused Peer Review of their Class II UIC program. These reviews were reinitiated nearly 4 years ago as part of the State Oil and Gas Regulatory Exchange (a joint project of the GWPC and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)). Reviews have been conducted in 5 states since 2015. They involve an evaluation of the effectiveness of a state’s Class II UIC program, which demonstrates the ability of the UIC program to protect USDWs and public health. Equal effectiveness with Section 1422 SDWA programs is the standard required of Section 1425 delegated programs. This report details the findings of the peer review team, provides feedback on positive aspects of the program and offers suggestions for enhancing the effectiveness of the Class II UIC program managed by the OCD

11/2017

State Of West Virginia Class II UIC Peer Review

The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) conducts the Class II UIC Peer Review process under the joint GWPC and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) “StatesFirst” Initiative. The purpose of this process is to assess the effectiveness of Class II UIC programs that have been delegated to states under Sections 1422 or 1425 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The peer review of the Class II UIC program administered by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Oil and Gas (OOG) was conducted by a review team made up of UIC managers and technical staff from state Class II agencies of states outside of the USEPA region in which West Virginia resides (Region 3). This included an in-state interview of OOG staff and management at the OOG office in Charleston, West Virginia on March 21, 2017. The in-state interview was based on responses to a comprehensive questionnaire completed by the state UIC staff and follow-up questions posed to the UIC staff during the interview. In addition, the interview team members reviewed the state’s statutes and rules governing the UIC program and other materials provided by the state.

05/2017

Underground Gas Storage Regulatory Considerations

A national Natural Gas Storage Work Group released this report on underground gas storage that evaluates potential vulnerabilities at gas storage operations and identifies prospective regulatory responses for consideration by state and federal agencies. Most underground gas storage facilities have safe histories of operation and allow large supplies of gas to be stored during times of low demand, and withdrawn from storage when demand for natural gas is high; thereby reducing the need for larger transmission pipelines and allowing for continuous supply of gas in the event of supply interruptions. However, when an accident occurs it can have dramatic impacts to public health, safety and the environment. The work group, which was led by states from across the country and was organized by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and Ground Water Protection Council, developed the report “Underground Gas Storage Regulatory Considerations” to serve as a resource for regulatory agencies and includes input from experts in academia, industry, non-profit organizations, and other state and federal agencies.

02/2017

Ground Water Report to the Nation

Our groundwater resources are in serious need of attention. Abundant, high quality, low-cost groundwater resources are fundamental to the long-term growth and vitality of our nation, yet this most important resource is often overlooked, if not neglected. Attention to the protection and management of groundwater has consistently lagged behind that given to surface waters, meaning that historic and current water resource laws and policies deal primarily with the protection and management of our more visible lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

The purpose of the Ground Water Report to the Nation is to highlight some of the more prevalent threats to groundwater, share sucess stories, and make recommendations for improved groundwater protection and awareness.  

Note: Please visit the Ground Water Report to the Nation topics page for individual chapters of the report.

01/2017

Ohio Class II Peer Review

This review of the State of Ohio was finalized in January 2017 by a team of Class II program managers from other state programs and overseen by the GWPC.  We would like to thank the State of Ohio for their assistance to the review team and we look forward to working with other states as we move forward with additional reviews.

08/2016

Well Integrity Regulatory Elements

These "Regulatory Elements for Well Integrity" are intended to provide regulators with a set of ideas to consider when improving oversight of the permitting, construction, operation and plugging of oil and gas wells. The Elements were developed by a group of state officials who met informally in conjunction with GWPC meetings in Nashville, Tennessee (September 23 – 26, 2012), Sarasota, Florida (January 22 – 24, 2012), and St. Louis (September 22 – 25, 2013).

04/2016

State Of Nebraska Class II UIC Program Peer Review

This review of the State of Nebraska was finalized in April, 2016 by a team of Class II program managers from other state programs and overseen by the GWPC.  We would like to thank the State of Nebraska and the staff of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for their assistance to the review team and we look forward to working with other states as we move forward with additional reviews.

11/2015

State Of Utah Class II UIC Program Peer Review

GWPC announces the publication of the first Class II UIC program peer review conducted under the revamped peer review process. This process, a joint GWPC and States First initiative, is designed to assist states by evaluating their Class II UIC programs, recognizing the positive aspects of a program, and offering suggestions for improvement. This review of the State of Utah, which was conducted in November, 2015 by a team of Class II program managers from other state programs and overseen by the GWPC, is the first of what GWPC hopes will be a series of state reviews to be conducted in the future.  We would like to thank the State of Utah and the staff of the Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining for their assistance to the review team and we look forward to working with other states as we move forward into 2016 and beyond.

01/2015

State Oil And Gas Regulations Designed To Protect Water Resources

In step with dramatic industry growth over the past five years, states have substantially improved ground water protection laws and regulations governing oil and natural gas production. State regulatory strategies differ in response to unique local circumstances and characteristics; over time, they evolve to address public concerns about the safety and environmental impact of oil and gas development, as well as rapidly changing technologies, new field discoveries, revised leading operational practices, internal and external reviews, and regulatory experience.

01/2011

An Assessment Of State Needs For Regulating Geologic Sequestration Of Carbon Dioxide

This report lays a foundation for states to accurately project additional personnel and associated costs and supporting capital outlay for a Class VI primacy program for “large-scale” geosequestration. The Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, expected to be the resident instrument for implementing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s sequestration regulatory program, has provided the framework for the safe and effective isolation of fluids injected underground for 30 years.

Work Groups

No workgroups were found.

Resolutions

No resolutions were found.

Comments

01/2021

Comments on EPA Applying the Supreme Court’s County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund Decision in the Clean Water Act Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Program

The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) provided comments and feedback to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding their draft memorandum which will provide guidance to the regulated community and permitting authorities on applying the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, 140 S. Ct. 1462 (2020), in the Clean Water Act Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program for point source discharges that travel through groundwater before reaching waters of the United States.

GWPC recognizes that groundwater is not and has never been a jurisdictional water under the definition of waters of the United States. States have full authority over their groundwater resources. Many of our member agencies protect groundwater quality and resources utilizing both federal and state authorities that are outside the regulatory jurisdiction of the CWA.

05/2018

Comments on 40 CFR Part 122 [EPA–HQ–OW–2018–0063; FRL–9973–41–OW] Clean Water Act Coverage of ‘‘Discharges of Pollutants’’ via a Direct Hydrologic Connection to Surface Water

The Ground Water Protection Council (www.gwpc.org) provided comments and feedback to the EPA regarding the Agency review and potential revisions or clarification to its previous statements concerning the applicability of the CWA NPDES permit program to pollutant discharges from point sources that reach jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater or other subsurface flow that has a direct hydrologic connection to a jurisdictional surface water. The following comments are intended to broadly address this request, but they do not necessarily reflect all of the concerns of individual states.
08/2017

Comments on EPA’s Draft National Water Program Guidance 2018-2019, Publication Number 800D17001

The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) provided comments on the draft National Water Program Guidance for 2018-2019.

08/2014

Comments on Proposed USDA Forest Service Directive on Groundwater Resource Management

GWPC recognizes the emphasis in this document on working with states. We feel that collaboration and cooperation with the States is necessary for US Forest Service (USFS) to achieve the vision, goals, strategies, and actions set out within the Groundwater Directive for UIC activities. Recognizing that USFS is not authorized to implement the UIC program under the Safe Drinking Water Act and thus does not have the regulatory authority necessary to carry out some of the provision of the directive, our specific comments provide information on how and when USFS can work within the existing UIC regulatory framework administered by US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) and the delegated states to ensure all applicable UIC authorizations and permits have been issued by the appropriate regulatory authority.