State Sen. Tony Avella is calling on the Department of Parks and Recreation to take responsibility for roots from trees planted by the city that have penetrated sewer lines in northeast Queens.
The senator said he has received numerous complaints from local residents who say they are experiencing sewage back-up caused by city trees that have damaged sewer pipes.
“How does the Parks Department expect middle class homeowners to engage in the expensive and complicated process of preventative work to protect their pipes against the infiltration of city roots?” Avella said. “Homeowners cannot protect their pipes against the infiltration of city roots until the line is clogged at which point it is already too late to engage in preventative work. It is extremely unreasonable to make homeowners bear the entire cost of replacing their sewer pipe if the primary cause of pipe blockage was induced by a city-owned tree.”
A city Parks Department spokesman said homeowners should have their sewer lines repaired to prevent tree roots from growing into them.
"Tree roots cannot damage sound pipes, but sometimes grow into a sewer line if there is already a leak because they follow water availability," he said. "Therefore, the best way to prevent this from occurring is for the homeowner to have his or her sewer line repaired."
Bayside resident Brian Hershkovitz said he has been having problems with tree roots at his home on 205th Street for five or six years.
“It’s a public safety issue and it’s causing a lot of property damage,” he said. “The roots are intruding our water and sewer line and it’s costing me thousands of dollars. They are also pushing up the cement in front of my home and the cobblestones in the street.”
Avella said homeowners have consistently been forced to undertake costly efforts to clean up the overflow of dirty water flooding into their basements.
Others have been forced to hire plumbers to cut the roots, but this method has only temporarily relieved their problems. They must then either have someone cut the roots every six months or replace the sewer pipe, both of which are costly, Avella said.
“The response from the Parks Department releasing themselves from any responsibility is simply unacceptable,” the senator said.
We'd love to hear from our readers. Has your property or pipes been damaged by roots from city trees?