What is the impact of drought on sewer pipe networks?
Drought conditions occur in many regions around the world, and the specific areas impacted by drought can vary depending on the time of year and other factors. Australia and many parts of Western United States are currently experiencing drought conditions. These conditions can be caused by a variety of factors, including lack of rainfall, high temperatures, and overuse of water resources; these all can have an impact on the performance of the sewer pipe network.
Impact on the sewer pipe network
Drought can indirectly damage sewer pipes by causing soil to shrink and settle, which can lead to the shifting and cracking of pipes. This can then result in leaks, blockages, and other types of damage that can cause sewage backups and other problems.
During drought conditions, the soil may become extremely dry and compacted which can cause it to pull away from sewer pipes that are buried underground. This can create voids or spaces around the pipes, which can cause them to shift or crack.
During periods of drought, trees may have difficulty finding enough water in the soil to sustain themselves. As a result, their roots may extend further in search of moisture, including into sewer pipes and the nutrient rich flow within them.
Figure 2 – Root growth within a water pipe – Sourced from Canva
Tree roots searching for a water source in the pipe network
When tree roots penetrate sewer pipes, they can cause blockages, clogs, and other types of damage that can lead to sewage backups and other problems. In areas where drought conditions are common, this can be an ongoing issue for homeowners and municipalities.
To prevent tree roots from causing damage to sewer pipes during drought conditions, it’s important to take steps to limit the growth of tree roots near sewer lines. This may include trimming trees and shrubs, installing physical barriers to prevent roots from infiltrating pipes, or using chemical treatments to kill roots that have already infiltrated the sewer system.
If you suspect that tree roots may be causing problems with your sewer pipes, it’s important to have the issue addressed as soon as possible by a professional plumber or sewer contractor. They can inspect your pipes and recommend the best course of action, which may include root cutting, pipe lining, or pipe replacement.