​​​Underground Injection Control

Update

The Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) is hosting informational workshops on the implementation of new regulations for Underground Injection Control (UIC) and Idle Well Testing and Management (Idle Wells).

Underground injection control regulations have been finalized and will be effective April 1, 2019. Idle well testing and management regulations are in the process of being finalized, with an anticipated effective date of April 1, 2019.

For further information related to workshop dates and locations, please view NTO 2019-05: Implementation Workshops on New Regulations - Underground Injection Control and Idle Well Testing & Management (PDF).


New regulations that will impact about 55,000 underground injection control (UIC) wells in California have been approved and will go into effect April 1, 2019. 

The regulations impact two types of wells: 1) those that inject water or steam for enhanced oil recovery and 2) those that return the briny groundwater that comes up from oil formations during production – typically unusable for drinking or agriculture -- back into the underground source from which it came. A third category of UIC wells – those used for underground gas storage – is covered by separate regulations. 

Key elements in the underground injection control (UIC) regulations include:

  • Stronger testing requirements designed to identify potential leaks.
  • Increased data requirements to ensure proposed projects are fully evaluated.
  • Continuous well pressure monitoring.
  • Requirements to automatically cease injection when there is a risk to safety or the environment.
  • Monitoring for seismic activity.
  • Requirements to disclose chemical additives. 

Read more about DOC's Active Rulemaking.

In summer 2018, DOGGR and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted revisions to the 1988 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding administration of the UIC program for Class II wells, discharges to land, and other related issues.

photo oil worker

Injection wells have been used in California for nearly 60 years. The Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program in the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) administers state regulations for the permitting, drilling, inspecting, testing, and sealing of these wells.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delegated primacy authority over oil and gas injection wells—categorized as Class II injection wells—to the UIC Program. The program must prevent the degradation of underground sources of drinking water (aquifers) where there are injection operations.

The UIC Program processes aquifer exemption applications with the EPA to ensure California's compliance with federal law. The EPA may create exemptions under SDWA and allow the injection of fluids associated with oil production into certain aquifers. These aquifers are not sources of drinking water nor are they likely to be in the future because they naturally contain petroleum or high levels of elements such as arsenic or boron. DOGGR collaborates with the State Water Resources Control Board to ensure that any useful water is protected.

UIC staff works with other DOGGR units to collect and manage well data, enforce regulations, and conduct public outreach.

Frequently Asked Questions about UIC

Igraphic: How Water is pumped up with oil and injected back into the ground

Additional Information

Oil and Gas Production: Water Use: Reporting, Senate Bill 1281 (2014)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: UIC and Drinking Water

Groundwater Protection Council

For Operators