29 October, 2019 14:56
Sewer crew, Stan Dawson, tree root blockage

As the prolonged dry conditions continue, Urban Utilities is issuing a warning to spring gardeners, tree roots are on the move and thirsty!

Lurking underground and on the hunt for water and nutrients, tree roots are the number one cause of blockages in sewer pipes.

Urban Utilities spokesperson, Michelle Cull, said green thumbs needed to be extra cautious this spring.

“Sewers are a prime target for tree roots which are seeking water because of the dry conditions,” she said.

“As we’ve had very little rain, there’s not much water and moisture in the soil.”

Last year, Urban Utilities crews cleared around 1,800 blockages from sewer pipes that were caused by tree roots.

“Some roots are as thin as a strand of hair, so they can creep through even the tiniest joint between two sewer pipes then swell to form a mass of roots and cause a serious blockage,” said Ms Cull.

“They can also damage your household plumbing, and the repairs can run into the thousands. The best advice is to do some homework before you plant this spring.”

Our top tips for spring time planting include:

  • Choose trees with less invasive root systems such as tulipwood, native gardenia, and lemon myrtle. Avoid ones that love to seek out water such as figs, bottlebrushes and paperbarks.

  • If you have a small block, chose smaller shrubs rather than trees. Consider what size the plant will be when fully grown. Good choices for shrubs are the New Zealand Christmas bush, camellia sasanquas and viburnum.

  • Don’t plant trees too close to sewer pipes – as a general rule, at least three metres from the pipe. If you’re not sure where your pipes are, you can request a drainage plan from your local Council. You can also call Dial Before You Dig on 1100.

  • Avoid planting near freshly laid pipes as tree roots are attracted to the softer soil.

About Queensland Urban Utilities
Established on July 1, 2010, Queensland Urban Utilities is one of the largest water distributor-retailers in Australia, providing water and sewerage services to more than 1.4 million residents across Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset local authority areas. We are upgrading and improving the reliability of our infrastructure by investing $2.76 billion in a 10-year capital works program. Our service territory covers 14,384 square kilometres and we employ around 1,100 people.