Water: Class V Wells
Frequent Questions about Class V Wells
Answers to commonly asked questions about Class V wells are presented below; many of the answers contain links to additional information.
- What is a Class V well?
- Why should I care if I have a Class V well?
- How do I know if I have a Class V well?
- Why does it matter what I inject?
- I have a Class V well, but didn’t know about the UIC requirements. What should I do?
- What if I want to construct a new Class V well?
- Whom do I contact or send information to about my Class V well?
- Do I need a permit for my Class V well?
- Is a storm water well that inadvertently receives motor vehicle fuel subject to the Class V Rule requirements for motor vehicle waste disposal wells?
- Are septic systems regulated as Class V wells under the UIC Program?
- Does the UIC Program regulate single-family residential septic systems?
For answers to general UIC questions, visit the UIC Frequent Questions page.
What is a Class V well?
Class V wells are typically shallow injection systems designed to place non-hazardous fluids into the subsurface. Typical examples of Class V wells include storm water drainage wells and large capacity septic systems. By definition a Class V drainage well is any bored, drilled, or driven shaft, or dug hole that is deeper than its widest surface dimension, or an improved sinkhole, or a subsurface fluid distribution system. This broad definition covers over 20 different Class V well types.
Why should I care if I have a Class V well?
Class V wells are commonly used to inject waste fluids in the shallow subsurface environment. In many cases we draw our drinking water supplies from the same locations we are injecting and disposing of those waste fluids. Proper management of injected fluids better insures clean drinking water supplies. For this reason Class V wells are regulated by EPA's Underground Injection Control program.
How do I know if I have a Class V well?
Visit the Class V Well Types page to learn about the various sub types of Class V wells. The link below provides a description of each type of well, the contaminants they may introduce, and a summary of risk they pose.
Why does it matter what I inject?
Ground water serves as the drinking water source for about 50 percent of Americans. Any substances injected into the subsurface can potentially contaminate USDWs, particularly if an injection well is not properly managed. Because contamination of ground water can be difficult to remediate, it is important to ensure that contaminants do not enter ground water.
I have a Class V well, but didn’t know about the UIC requirements. What should I do?
Contact your local UIC program representative right away to find out about requirements you must meet. In most cases, you will need to stop using the well and submit an inventory form. Within 90 days, the permitting authority will either tell you that you may resume injection or let you know of any additional requirements. If you have a large-capacity cesspool or motor vehicle waste disposal well, you will be subject to the requirements of the 1999 Class V Rule.
- State and Regional permitting authorities
- Class V Rule
- See also, What should I do before I begin injecting? on the Minimum Requirements for more information.
What if I want to construct a new Class V well?
Contact your permitting authority before you begin construction. At a minimum, you will need to submit inventory information (e.g., the name and location of the facility, a legal contact, the property owner, and information on the nature and type of injection well). The permitting authority will let you know what else (if anything) you must do. Visit the minimum requirements page for more information on the basic requirements that operators of Class V wells must meet.
Whom do I contact or send information to about my Class V well?
Information about your well, including information you may need to provide while operating the well, should be submitted to your permitting authority, which may be either a state agency or an EPA Regional Office. To find out what agency you should contact you should visit the page below.
Do I need a permit for my Class V well?
Most often the answer is no. Many types of Class V wells are “rule authorized” if you meet certain requirements (e.g., submit basic inventory information and the well does not endanger a USDW). If the UIC Program director is concerned that your well will endanger a USDW, you may be required to obtain a permit. Operators of motor vehicle waste disposal wells that wish to continue operating their wells must apply for and receive a permit (provided their state has not banned these wells).
Is a storm water well that inadvertently receives motor vehicle fuel subject to the Class V Rule requirements for motor vehicle waste disposal wells?
Storm water drainage wells at motor vehicle facilities that are intended for storm water management but also receive insignificant amounts of fuel due to unintentional leaks, drips, or spills at the pump are not considered motor vehicle waste disposal wells and are not subject to the Class V Rule. The storm water drainage wells page describes ways to avoid accidental discharges of contaminants, including fuel, into storm water drainage wells.
Are septic systems regulated as Class V wells under the UIC Program?
Septic systems that receive waste water either from multiple dwellings or a non-residential establishment and that have the capacity to serve 20 or more persons per day are defined as large capacity septic systems and considered to be Class V wells that are subject to UIC regulations. Septic systems that receive waste other than sanitary waste are considered to be industrial wells. Septic systems that serve fewer than 20 persons and receive solely sanitary wastes are not Class V wells.
Does the UIC Program regulate single-family residential septic systems?
No. The UIC regulations apply to large-capacity septic systems, which have the capacity to serve 20 or more persons per day. However, most states and localities regulate the siting, design, and construction of residential septic systems. Contact your state or local health department for information on septic system regulations in your community, or visit EPA's Office of Wastewater Management’s septic systems page.