Trees and your pipes

Avoid costly mistakes when selecting and planting trees in your yard

Tree roots are responsible for the majority of blockages and breaks to our water and sewer systems that supply your property.

The cost of repairing and removing invasive tree roots is very expensive for both you and us.

Help prevent the problem

Some trees become a problem within just a few years’ time. As a general rule, no trees of any species should be planted near our assets, such as a sewer main or a property connection. However, there are a wide range of smaller native and ornamental plants and shrubs that are suitable to be located over water and sewer mains. These include:

Suitable plants Some examples
Small native and ornamental shrubs, ground covers and flowers Roses, daisies, boronias.

Bulbs such as daffodils and tulips.

Agapanthus, violets, succulents.
Small herb and vegetable plants (excluding fruit trees) Tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, corn, lettuce
Grasses, sedges and rushes All lawn-grass varieties (Kikuyu, Buffalo, Rye), Tussock Grass (Poa sp.), sedges (Carex sp.), and rushes (Juncus, sp.).

Why it is important to know what is safe to plant

Planting the right types of plants close to water and sewer mains on your property helps prevent costly problems.

Tree roots can cause major damage to pipes, create blockages and capture other items that should not be in our sewer system such as oils, fats, cotton buds, wet wipes, and even kids’ toys.

Once a tree root finds its way into the water or sewer system, the constant source of water and nutrients fuels the tree to grow quickly. Tree roots can spread long distances within a pipe network - some have been found to travel up to 30 metres away from their tree base! 

Cleaning our pipes is costly. We spend about $250,000 a year in preventive works targeting potential tree root blockage areas. This involves cleaning up to 16km of sewer main each month.

Who is responsible?

Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of water pipes and sewer drains inside their property’s boundary. If a tree in your property causes blockages or damage to your sewer drain or our sewer connection, it's your responsibility to cover all costs for clearing the blockages and repair the drain or connection.

If a tree in your property is causing problems or damage to your neighbour’s property, you can also be held liable for the damage caused. If any blockages or breakages occur outside a property’s boundary, it's our responsibility to repair the connection. We spend about $100,000 a year clearing blockages that interrupt customer’s wastewater service caused by tree roots alone.

What to do if a tree causes damage on or outside your property

  • If the tree is in your property, it's best to remove it. Keeping the tree will cause more damage to your property’s water and sewer systems.
  • If you have a problem with your property’s water and/or sewer systems, you'll need to contact a licensed plumber to rectify the problem at your expense.
  • Your plumber should not only be able to fix the problem, but also indicate which tree is causing the problem.
  • If the damage is outside your property, please contact us to report any leaks, bursts or faults on 1800 057 057.