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For Sewer Safe Spring Planting, Get the 811

April 11, 2023

Spring has Sprung!

Now that the last frost has (hopefully) passed, it is time to get planting. But remember, always call 811 or visit https://sc811.com before you dig, no matter how big or small your project. You never know what utilities are just below the surface!

Sewer Safety

One thing to keep in mind during springtime planting is what types of plants should or should not go near sewer lines. Root intrusion is a common culprit when it comes to plugged pipes. Nutrient-seeking roots will follow the sound of water and enter your pipes through small cracks in the system. There, the roots will grow, nurtured by nutrient-rich wastewater flowing through the laterals. As the roots grow, so do cracks in the pipes which may prevent wastewater from leaving your home. The results can equal disaster: Backups in your basement, or sanitary sewer overflows out of nearby manholes. The I&I (or inflow and infiltration of stormwater) caused by damaged pipes can also put pressure on wastewater treatment facilities downstream, which could ultimately lead to rate increases.

What to do?

Call 811 to locate your pipes, then consider your layout. Trees, shrubs and other plants with larger root systems should all be planted at least 13 feet away from utilities. Large, fast-growing trees like willows and cottonwoods should be planted even further away — 20 to 30 feet is a good bet. Remember to keep an eye out for utilities when digging for hardscaping and irrigation as well. Leave at least 18 inches of undisturbed space on both sides of a marked utility line.

Need more information? Download the South Carolina 811 fact sheet here.

Ever wonder what the color of each utility flag stands for?