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The Demystification

                       of Class V Injection

                       Wells                       Robyn Hoerr, MRWA Source Water Protection Specialist

                   T                                                    Most of the Class V wells utilize simple technology

                       There are many topics that come up in discussion
                       that  have  required  additional  explanation  during
                       my  experience  working  with  public  water supply
                                                                        and  gravity drainage.  Also,  they are more likely
                                                                        to be found  in  areas not served by a municipal
                       systems  on  Wellhead  Protection (WHP)  issues.  I
                                                                        sewer utility and are associated with land uses that
                       suppose it’s to be expected; as federal and state
                                                                        generate substances needing disposal.
                       regulatory agencies gather new data it seems to
                       bring new issues to light requiring
                       us all  to bring  ourselves up to
                                                                                          illegal in the state of Minnesota
                       speed.  However,  there are few
                                                                                          and are no longer approved
                       WHP topics that have been met                         Some Class V well types are considered to be
                       with  such  hazy  understanding                                    for construction  by  land
                       as that of Class  V  wells;  just                                  use  planning  and  permitting
                       what are they,  and  what is                                      programs. Examples of illegal
                       their  significance in relation to                                Class  V  wells  in  Minnesota
                       protecting drinking water?                                       include  auto  repair  shops
                                                                                        with  a  floor  drain  leading  to  a
                       I have to admit I am not as                                      septic system,  municipal  utility
                       familiar with this type of land                                 systems where stormwater flows
                       use  and  potential  source of                                  to  dry  wells,  open-bottomed
                       contamination  to drinking                                      tanks   receiving  wastewater
                       water as  I  am  with  many                                    (cesspools), apartment  buildings
                       others since  there  are  such  a  vast                        whose sanitary sewer waste flows
                       range of types of Class V wells—                               to a septic tank and drainfield, or a
                       there are at least 23 different                                carwash whose waste empties to
                       kinds--utilizing  various  types                               a floor drain leading to a dry well
                       of  technology.  Also,  Class  V                                or septic system. Many  Class  V
                       wells  are not  as  commonly                                    wells of this nature have already
                       used  in  Minnesota  as they are                                been  identified  and  corrected
                       elsewhere  in  the  country.  It’s                               since the inception of the Class
                       easy to recognize the reason for                                 V  program  in  the 1990’s,  and
                       the need of further  description                                  the more  recently  discovered
                       of what this  land  use is  when                                  are referred to the USEPA UIC
                       bringing up the topic.                                            program for remediation.
                       For general understanding, a Class                           A different type of Class V well, large
                       V well, also referred to as a shallow                   capacity septic systems, are legal to use
                       disposal  well,  is  one  whose                                    in  Minnesota.  Examples of
                       purpose is to inject non-hazardous                                 this type of Class  V well  are
                       substances underground,  either                                   businesses serving  at least
                       into  or  above  a  source of                                     twenty  people  per day,  or  a
                       drinking water. These wells are                                  septic system that serves more
                       regulated by the United States                                   than  two homes.  These Class
                       Environmental     Protection                                     V  wells  are required  to have
                       Agency (USEPA)  Underground                                     a  permit from  the USEPA  for
                       Injection  Control    (UIC)                                     operation.  Due to the potential
                       program  under  the  Authority                                 for these land uses to impart  a
                       of the federal  Safe Drinking                                  large volume of contaminants into
                       Water Act. Class V wells are                                   the ground  that  may  reach  the
                       part of a larger group of wells that have                     groundwater aquifers, the  USEPA
                       been divided  into  a total of six groups  (I  – VII)         simply wants to know the locations
                       based on their uses. The Class V well category is   of these Class V wells, and no further requirements
                       a  ‘catch all’  of  wells  not already  falling  into  one   are necessary other than for the property owner to
                       of the other five injection well categories making   comply with local and state rules for construction
                       this a diverse group typically used for municipal,   and  operation,  and  keep the  system in  good
                       commercial or industrial practices.              working order.

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