Recently Released Report

U.S. Department of the Interior’s Underground Injection Control Activities


The U.S. Geological Survey estimated in 2013 that “more than 100 million people in the United States, about 35 percent of the population . . . received their drinking water from public groundwater systems.” The U.S. Department of the Interior is tasked with managing and protecting resources on Federal and Indian lands, including underground sources of drinking water. We found several issues dealing with improper drainage of Class V injection wells, which are, generally, disposal systems that depend on gravity to drain fluids into the ground and are one of six categories defined in EPA’s regulations that could potentially threaten sources of underground drinking water.

First, the Department has no overarching guidance or policy to assist bureaus in complying with EPA’s regulations concerning Class V injection wells. This has led to a patchwork of inconsistent or nonexistent policies at the bureau level. Second, bureaus have not effectively tracked and managed their Class V wells. As a result, bureaus are not complying with EPA’s regulations to self-report these wells. Third, we found several instances where well types banned from operation in 2005 were still operational on departmental lands. We offered seven recommendations to several of the Department’s bureaus to address each of those issues.

Read complete report here.