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Sewer pipes and trees
Trees and shrubs play an important role in our daily life. They enhance the environment while providing shade, windbreaks and aesthetic value to any home. However, trees can cause major problems and some species are unsuitable for planting near your home's sewer pipes or or Singleton Council's sewer mains.

The roots of all trees infiltrate and eventually destroy pipes, causing significant inconvenience and costly repairs. The degree of risk and damage caused by tree roots depends on:
  • What type of tree or shrub is involved;
  • How close it is to the sewer pipes; and 
  • What your sewer pipes are made of (eg clay, PVC, UPVC, etc).

Tree roots can cause considerable damage to both your property and public assets. Some tree roots have been found to travel up to 30 metres away from their trees base. Once a tree root finds its way into the water or sewer system, they can spread long distances within a pipe network, reducing flow and eventually causing blockages and major pipe damage.

As well as being very inconvenient, the cost of repairing and removing invasive tree roots is very expensive for both the homeowner and Singleton Council. Maintenance of the sewer and water mains inside your property boundary is your responsibility. Singleton Council is only responsible for maintenance from your properties point of connection to the sewer and water mains which supply the entire street.

If tree roots cause damage on your property you will need to contact a licenced plumber to rectify the problem at your expense. Your plumber should not only be able to fix the problem, but also provide advice on which tree is causing the problem. If the tree is in your property it is advisable that it be removed as it will continue to cause damage to your property's water and sewer systems. If a tree from your property causes damage to a public asset outside your property boundary, you can also be held liable for the damage caused.

How to find pipes on your land
Many people are unaware that Singleton Council sewer mains run through residential properties, connecting to the sewer pipes owned by home owners.

The location of our mains and your pipes can be hard to identify without plans, although you can usually find an inspection shaft cover somewhere in your yard. We can provide you with a plan of your property showing where our sewer mains are located, while a qualified plumber can provide you with a basic plan of where your own sewer pipes are located.

Preventing problems - the best solution
The ideal solution to this problem is to ensure that all new and replacement sewer pipes meet current Australian Standards and NSW Plumbing Code of Practice Guidelines, and to avoid planting inappropriate trees near your sewer pipes.

Use the right pipes

You must use a licenced plumber when laying new sewer pipes or replacing old sewer pipes. We strongly recommend continuous unplasticised (UPVC) pipes when laying new sewer pipes or replacing old sewer pipes in areas at risk of tree root intrusion. Roots find it virtually impossible to infiltrate well constructed UPVC pipes, while the older style vitreous clay pipes are more prone to root infiltration.

If you already have a problem

If there are roots in Singleton Council's pipes, we use a special foam to inhibit root growth. If the problem is in your own pipes, you can get a plumber to do the same. Repair and reinforcement of the affected sewer pipes is also a practical option worth considering. However, in severe cases, you may need to consider removing the offending tree. If this is the case, it is vital that you correctly identify which tree is causing the damage.

Singleton Council
PO Box 314 Singleton NSW 2330
Ph: 02 6578 7290