Injection Wells: Am I Regulated?
Chapter 27 of the Texas Water Code (the Injection Well Act) defines an “injection well” as “an artificial excavation or opening in the ground made by digging, boring, drilling, jetting, driving, or some other method, and used to inject, transmit, or dispose of industrial and municipal waste or oil and gas waste into a subsurface stratum; or a well initially drilled to produce oil and gas which is used to transmit, inject, or dispose of industrial and municipal waste or oil and gas waste into a subsurface stratum; or a well used for the injection of any other fluid; but the term does not include any surface pit, surface excavation, or natural depression used to dispose of industrial and municipal waste or oil and gas waste.” All injection wells are regulated by either TCEQ (the commission in the Act) or the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC). Injection wells are classified into five different types:
- Class I wells, which are used for deep injection, are regulated by the TCEQ. (The RRC reviews and comments on these applications.)
- Class II wells, which are related to energy byproducts, are regulated by the RRC.
- Class III wells, which are used to extract minerals other than oil and gas, are regulated by the TCEQ or the RRC, depending on the type of well.
- Class IV wells are generally banned, but may be authorized by the TCEQ or the EPA in certain environmental cleanup operations.
- Class V wells, which are used for many different activities, are regulated by either the TCEQ or the RRC, depending on the type of well.
A few examples of injection wells regulated by the TCEQ are:
- Wells that inject municipal, industrial, or hazardous wastes into a layer that is below the lowermost underground source of drinking water
- Wells that inject fluids to extract uranium or sulfur and to get rid of waste byproducts from the mining operation
- Wells that inject hazardous waste above an underground source of drinking water
- Any well or similar apparatus that releases a liquid or liquids into or above an underground source of drinking water