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Managing Shallow Disposal Systems in Region 5

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Information on other well classes

Our Priorities

Picture of a French drain in a garage floor

Picture of a French drain in a garage floor.

Close Endangering Shallow Disposal Systems

These systems are most likely to cause a violation of primary drinking water standards or result in adverse impacts on public health or the environment. Several factors determine the level of endangerment including the local geology of the area, distance from drinking water supplies, specific UIC requirements and applicable state/local laws, and type of waste fluids being disposed. Waste fluids that exhibit hazardous characteristics, contain hazardous or radioactive constituents, exceed drinking water standards or can have potential adverse affects on human health are considered to be harmful. While many systems must be assessed case-by-case, those disposing of the following types of wastes have been documented as being particularly endangering.

Closing these endangering systems does not mean that a business must shut down their daily operations. It does mean that the company must immediately stop all disposal practices that allow harmful fluids to be released underground and begin a permanent and safer alternative method for disposal that the UIC program has approved.

Gather Inventory Information

Example of a floor drain

An example of a typical shallow disposal system where the floor drain leads to a dry well or septic system.

Owners and operators must submit inventory information about any shallow disposal system located at their facilities. This information helps us determine the type of system installed, the system's potential for endangering underground sources of drinking water, and the regulatory approach we will follow. The system may need to be closed, may qualify for rule-authorization, or may be eligible for a permit. We collect inventory information through three main sources:

  1. Businesses that follow the law and submit inventory on their own accord
  2. Field inspectors that conduct county-by-county searches to locate these systems
  3. Other regulatory programs that submit referrals for follow-up

For more state-specific information, see working with States and Tribes.

Educate, Inform, and Build Partnerships

We reach out to state, tribal and local governments and the public to increase awareness about the UIC program, Class V well requirements and the potential for Class V wells to contaminate underground sources of drinking water. We have provided funding for these organizations through cooperative agreements, grants and other funded efforts to initiate programs that educate the local community and find Class V wells within their jurisdictions.

We also investigate citizen complaints in addition to issues raised by states, tribes and local governments and participate in national workgroups related to Class V issues that could affect Region 5.

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Working in and with States and Tribes


Indian Lands






Senior Environmental Employee (SEE) Contacts
SEE Class V Inspection & Closure Assistance Team

What is a Senior Environmental Employee?

Class V Inspections and Closures

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Working With Local Governments

Coordination and information sharing between Federal, State, and Local governments is crucial to protecting ground water. Local governments have the best knowledge about the businesses within their communities that have shallow disposal systems. We have formed partnerships with various local officials and have provided small grants along with training, technical assistance, outreach materials, and Best Management Practice (BMP) information. We have provided enforcement assistance to help local officials with facilities that are suspected of contaminating local ground water supplies and that fall under our requirements. We have also conducted workshops for local officials in Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota on Federal requirements.

We encourage local officials to work with us. Here are a few things local officials can do. Contact us for additional information.

How Do I Inventory My Shallow Disposal System?

Owners and operators of Class V wells are required by law to submit basic inventory information to the UIC Program Director about their wells.

Basic inventory information includes facility name and location, name and address of legal contact, ownership of the facility, nature and type of injection well(s), and operating status of well (i.e., planned/under construction, active, temporarily abandoned, or plugged).

Where you send this information depends on the state where the facility is located (Refer to the section on Working With States and Tribes). For facilities in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota or on Tribal Land, we have prepared an example underground discharge system (Class V) inventory sheet (PDF) (1pg, 74K) June 2002 with instructions to make it simpler for well owners and operators to do this.

Injection Wells Used for Site Clean-Up

Our program also regulates shallow disposal systems that are used as part of site cleanup activities. Such activities must be RCRA-approved, otherwise they are banned.

Because these cleanups are intended to benefit the environment and are already overseen by other federal and/or state programs, the UIC program does not wish to unnecessarily delay remediation activities. In most all situations, the above information is sufficient to allow the UIC program to "rule-authorize" these types of injection wells (they do not require a permit).

If you would like to receive a letter or e-mail response back from EPA that the wells are authorized by rule, please include a cover letter with your inventory submittal requesting a response. After the injection activity has been completed, you need to notify the UIC program briefly describing when the wells have been plugged and how they were plugged.

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Other Related Information

Small and Disadvantaged Businesses

EPA has several web pages related to small businesses which may be of interest to some Class V well owners and operators.

The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance also has online help for small business owners.

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Automotive Recyclers Association

EPA and the Automotive Recyclers Association have partnered to develop a compliance assistance website which brings together compliance assistance materials from each state, including fact sheets on many topics relevant to owners of shallow disposal systems, particularly the one on floor drains and the one on septic tanks and disposal wells. They cover:

Automotive Recyclers Association Exit EPA Disclaimer

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Fact sheets

From Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Exit EPA Disclaimer

Handy explanation of floor drains from Minnesota Technical Assistance Program Exit EPA Disclaimer

Ground Water Protection Council Exit EPA Disclaimer

The Ground Water Protection Council is a national association of state ground water and underground injection control agencies whose mission is to promote the protection and conservation of ground water resources for all beneficial use, recognizing ground water as a critical component of the ecosystem.

CCAR-GreenLink® Exit EPA Disclaimer

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