Ohio’s wastewater well injection program passes EPA review


COLUMBUS — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently released a report on Ohio’s Class II Underground Injection Control program and found that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ regulatory program is of “good quality” and provides strong protections for Ohio’s underground sources of drinking water.

“The report shows that our extensive investment in the Class II program has enhanced protections for Ohioans, the environment and our underground drinking water resources,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer, “but there is always room for improvement, so we will continue work to strengthen those protections.”

Seismic monitoring

ODNR is among the first states in the nation that has the authority to require seismic monitoring at Class II injection wells.

The U.S. EPA report states that the ODNR Underground Injection Control program is, “strong in several areas including permitting, inspections and resolving violations found during inspections.”

EPA’s review analyzed how the department permits, inspects, tests, restricts and monitors Class II wells.

The report identified recent program updates stating, “Changes to the program enhance rather than reduce the effectiveness of the program.”

Recent program improvements include expanded public comment periods, required continuous pressure monitoring at injection wells, installation of seismic monitoring equipment and increased program staffing and funding.

Field presence

“ODNR witnessed 100 percent of initial mechanical integrity tests since 1983…ODNR’s high inspection presence is a key component for a program that relies in part on inspections to ensure ongoing mechanical integrity of Class II wells.”

Presently, ODNR inspectors are second only to North Dakota in the number of inspections that are being performed each year.

Room for improvement

The U.S. EPA found Ohio was meeting or exceeding federal requirements in 17 of the 20 criteria reviewed. The suggested program enhancements recommended in the report are for select areas of the program including storing more operator information and closing operator reporting gaps.

ODNR has already begun taking steps to remedy these matters, as all production and disposal operator files are stored in the Risk Based Database Management System.


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