Motor Vehicle Waste Disposal Wells
On this page:
- What Is motor vehicle waste and why are these wells regulated?
- How do I know if I have a motor vehicle waste disposal well?
- What are the requirements for motor vehicle waste disposal wells?
- Are there other options besides closing my motor vehicle waste disposal well?
- What are the requirements for closing a motor vehicle waste disposal well?
- What is the deadline for complying with the ban or getting a permit?
- What do I do with the motor vehicle waste after closing my well?
If you own or operate a motor vehicle waste disposal well that receives or has received fluids from vehicle repair or maintenance activities, you should read this section. Some of these wells may be banned or need to meet new requirements.
Motor vehicle waste disposal wells are used by the following types of businesses:
- Automotive service stations
- New and used car dealers
- Auto body shops
- Muffler repair shops
- Truck stops
- Boat yards
- Vehicle repair home businesses
- Transmission repair shops
- Car and truck rental agencies
- Light airplane maintenance facilities
- Farm machinery dealers
- Railroad maintenance facilities
A motor vehicle waste disposal well is a shallow disposal system that receives fluids from vehicle repair or maintenance activities in the types of shops listed above. Motor vehicle waste disposal wells are regulated as Class V injection wells.
Typical motor vehicle waste disposal wells are floor drains or sinks in service bays that connect to a septic system or dry well. However, any underground system that receives motor vehicle waste is considered to be a motor vehicle waste disposal well. For example, cesspools, catchbasins, and sink holes are considered motor vehicle waste disposal wells if they receive motor vehicle waste.
During normal vehicle repair and maintenance, fluids such as engine oil or solvents may drip or spill into floor drains or sinks in service areas. Motor vehicle wastes include:
- Engine oil
- Transmission fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Brake fluid
If you dispose of these fluids through a motor vehicle waste disposal well, they may contaminate ground water. Therefore, EPA regulates these wells to prevent ground water contamination in certain areas.
|Questions:||If Your Answer is Yes...||If Your Anwer is No...|
|1. Does your facility service motor vehicles?Examples: cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, powerboats, all terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, farm tractors, construction machineries, trains, helicopters, airplanes, jet skis, and other motorized vehicles.||Go to question 2.||You are not affected by the rule. Stop here.|
|2. Does your facility have floor drains or sinks in the vehicle service areas?||Go to question 3.||You are not affected by the rule. Stop here.|
|3. Are all of your floor drains and sinks connected to a municipal sewer? (see note below)||You are not affected by the rule. Stop here.||Go to question 4.|
|4. Are all of your floor drains and sinks connected to a holding tank, and is the waste in the holding tank disposed of off-site?
(see note below)
|You are not affected by the rule. Stop here. (However, you may be subject to other state or federal disposal requirements.)||Go to question 5.|
|5. Are you discharging all of your motor vehicle service wastewater directly to surface waters or onto land? (see note below)||You are not affected by the rule. Stop here. (However, you may be subject to other state or federal disposal requirements.)||You may be disposing of motor vehicle service wastewater into a shallow disposal system such as a septic system or drywell and thus have a motor vehicle waste disposal well.|
Note: Any plans for your building that show wastewater flow may not necessarily reflect the actual construction of your wastewater system. They also may not include renovations made after your shop was built. Your local health department or a plumber using dye or smoke tests may be able to help you determine where your drain goes.
Motor vehicle waste disposal wells are banned in the following cases:
- Nationwide if the well was constructed after April 5, 2000
- They are in ground water protection areas. Ground water protection areas are areas near public water systems that provide ground water used for drinking
- They are in other sensitive ground water areas. Other sensitive ground water areas are those areas outside of ground water protection areas that need protection from motor vehicle waste disposal wells
- Throughout states that have opted to entirely ban motor vehicle waste disposal wells
Check with your permitting authority to find out if your motor vehicle waste disposal well is in a ground water protection or other sensitive ground water area (or to find out if wells are banned statewide). The permitting authority may also notify you directly that you are in one of these areas.
Some states may waive the ban and allow you to continue using the well if you apply for and receive a permit. If you are granted a waiver, you must follow the procedures outlined in your permit. At a minimum, permits require the following.
- Waste fluids must meet drinking water standards called Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) at the point of injection. This means that shop wastewater, before it is discharged into the ground, must not exceed any MCL.
- You implement the best management practices described in your permit to minimize the amount of contaminants in your shop wastewater.
- You monitor the wastewater being discharged into the ground and sludge to ensure continued compliance with MCLs, as required by your permit. This requirement may mean taking a sample of the wastewater once a year (or as specified in the permit) and sending it to a laboratory for analysis.
If your wastewater does not meet drinking water standards, you have two options:
- Install “pretreatment equipment” that treats the wastewater before it goes to the drain
- Close the well according to the permitting authority’s directions
If you must close your well, you must do so in a way that prevents contamination of ground water. Contact your permitting authority to find out if there are any additional requirements you must meet. In closing your well, take these steps.
- Write to your permitting authority at least 30 days before you close the well.
- Ask what information you must provide.
- You may be asked to fill out a pre-closure notification form or inventory form or write a letter saying that you plan to close the well.
Permanently plug or otherwise close the well in a way that is approved by the permitting authority and that ensures ground water is protected.
- Dispose of or manage any soil, gravel, sludge, liquids, or other materials removed from your well or the area around the well according to all federal, state and local requirements. Your permitting authority should have information about specific requirements in your state.
Your permitting authority may have additional requirements for well closure. Before closing your well, contact the authority for guidance. It is your responsibility to find out what the requirements are.
Example: If your floor drains are connected to your septic system, you may be required to clean out the drains and the pipes running to the septic tank and seal them off using cement. You may also need to have a licensed or certified septic service check the contents of your septic tank to see if there is any contaminated sludge. You may be required to sample surrounding soils and ground water to ensure there is no contamination. After this is done, the septic system can be used for sanitary waste from bathrooms.
The deadline for complying with the ban (or obtaining a permit) varies from state to state. Contact your permitting authority to find out by when you will need to comply.
After you close your well, manage your motor vehicle service wastewater with one of the methods below.
- Dry shops: Minimize the use of water to clean service bays. Use absorbents and vacuums to pick up spills and drips. Dispose of these materials according to state guidelines and regulations. Place all used vehicle fluids in individual containers for proper off-site management.
- Holding tanks: Store the motor vehicle waste in a service bay wastewater holding tank. The tank can be periodically pumped out for proper disposal. You may minimize the amount of wastewater that has to be stored by separating shop wastewater from sanitary and vehicle washing wastewater—and by cutting back on the amount of water used in your shop.
- Sanitary sewer hookups: Contact the local sewer authority about the possibility of connecting floor drains to the sewer system. Often, system hook-up may be available even though it was not an option when the service bays were built. Sewer hookups can be expensive, however. If connecting to a sanitary sewer will take time to complete, you may be able to extend the deadline for closing your well for up to one year. However, you must get special permission to do this, and you probably will need a temporary operating permit.
- Conversion: In some cases, you may be allowed to convert a motor vehicle waste disposal well to another type of Class V well. This option requires that all motor vehicle fluids be kept away from drains using physical barriers that prevent the waste from entering the well.