Tree Work

We strive to maintain a viable urban forest, by caring for a healthy and varied mix of tree species. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, urban canopies provide wildlife habitat, cooling and shade in the summer, and a measure of wind protection in the winter. If you feel a tree should be trimmed in the right-of-way adjacent to your property, please call or email the Work Center. The City will inspect your tree and property and determine the best course of action. (City policy is that healthy trees are not removed.)


Slowly draining sinks and sluggish toilets may be an indication of clogged sewer lines, but don't be too quick to blame nearby trees for causing the problem. Tree roots only invade sewer lines that have already broken, most often due to earth settlement, dried joints, or age. Broken sewer lines or joints leak sewage into the ground, and adjacent roots, which need moisture and nutrients, soon invade the surrounding area and eventually the defective lines. They can enter the defective pipe and eventually block the flow of its sewerage.

In addition, studies show that roots from shrubbery planted around the house are the culprits more often than tree roots. Also, consider the fact that tree roots are rarely associated with water line problems, even though trees need water. The reason is that water lines are commonly made of cast iron, bolted together and designed not to break or leak. Sewer lines, particularly those older than 60 years old, are often made of clay tiles fitted together with mortar. Clay is fragile and eventually cracks due to soil settlement or earth tremors. Additionally, over time the mortar can deteriorate, and fall out of the joint. When these situations occur, tree roots may enter the line. However, a simple solution allows trees, shrubbery, and free flowing sewers to coexist:

Local home centers sell a product, often called “foaming root killer”, which when flushed down your toilet, kills tree and shrubbery roots on contact in the sewer line (without causing undue stress or damage to the tree or shrub.) This product is inexpensive and easy to use, and is effective for one to five years. Look for a brand without copper additives, as this is safer to use both for you and your plumbing system. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Problems can be prevented by:

  • →Proper construction of new sewer lines, including the use of glued PVC, tight joints, and a firm soil base that won't settle unevenly.
  • →Repair or replacement of defective sewers. Repeated root blockage may indicate a collapsed or badly damaged pipe.

 The City is not responsible for sidewalk lifts.

The City does not address city trees in regards to sewer line issues. For sewer issues contact the Chemung County Sewer District.