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Underground Injection Control

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Potential sources of ground water contamination are numerous. Injection wells, which facilitate the subsurface emplacement of fluids, are a potential ground water contamination source if not properly sited, constructed and maintained. Injection well technology ranges from deep wells which are carefully engineered and constructed to discharge fluids under pressure through multiple layers of steel pipe, to shallow wells which discharge under the influence of gravity through drain fields, seepage pits and dry wells. Injection wells are regulated by the EPA under the authority of the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, as provided for by Part C of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Also under the Safe Drinking Water Act, there is Emergency Order Authority (SDWA 1431) that can be used to address a potential endangerment to an aquifer on a public water supply. The mid-Atlantic Region has made use of this authority to address endangerment and will continue to use this effective tool in the future.

The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates that each state must have a UIC program. Many states have been given primary enforcement responsibility (primacy) for their UIC programs. Mid-Atlantic states with primacy:

If a state does not adopt primacy of the UIC program, EPA must implement the program for the state. EPA directly implements the UIC programs in:

The UIC program protects underground sources of drinking water (USDWs) by preventing the potential for contamination from injection well activity. The construction or operation of an injection well which may cause a violation of maximum contaminant levels in a public water supply, or which may otherwise adversely affect the health of persons, is prohibited. The UIC program is intended to prevent contamination of our ground water resources, including public and private water supplies (source water protection). Permitting, construction, monitoring, and reporting requirements are prescribed in the UIC regulations.

To achieve our ground water protection mandate, the UIC program uses many tools including:

The UIC program has Government Performance and Results Act commitments to inspect wells in source water protection areas and close 100% of endangering wells within those designated areas. EPA works with state and local officials to prioritize its inspections within the source water protection areas.

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