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EPA's Region 6 Office

Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations

How Does the UIC Program Prevent Contamination of Our Water Supply?

Improper injection has the potential to contaminate our underground sources of drinking water. The UIC Program minimizes this potential by setting minimum requirements for proper injection. These minimum requirements affect the siting, construction, operation, maintenance, monitoring, testing, and finally, the closure of the well.

By conducting injection activities according to the requirements of the UIC program, waste fluids are safely transported below all underground sources of drinking water (USDW). The formations receiving the wastes contain native salt waters similiar to, if not saltier than, the oceans. Here the wastes remain permanently.

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Why Do We Need a Program to Regulate the Placement of Fluids Underground?

Facilities across the United States and in Indian Country discharge a variety of hazardous and nonhazardous fluids into more than 400,000 injection wells. While treatment technologies exist, it would be very costly to treat and release to surface waters the trillions of gallons of wastes that industries produce each year. Agribusiness and the chemical and petroleum industries all make use of underground injection for waste disposal. When wells are properly sited, constructed, operated and monitored, underground injection is an effective and environmentally safe method to dispose of wastes.

The Safe Drinking Water Act established the UIC Program to provide these safeguards so that injection wells do not endanger USDW. USDW provides water for 92 percent of public water systems in the United States.

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Is underground injection really necessary? Can't it simply be banned?

Some waste fluids are generated in such volumes as to make treatment economically impractical. If properly constructed, and operated, injection wells are by far the best way to dispose of these waste fluids.

Some waste fluids cannot be treated with current technology to the point of safe discharge to surface waters.

Injection can be banned but to do so removes a safe, economically proven technology by which wastes can be effectively addressed.

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Drinking Water    Ground Water    Underground Injection Control

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