Foam getting rid of roots in Davenport’s sanitary sewers

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Davenport city leaders hope a quick spray can keep its sanitary sewers in good shape for the future.

A company based out of New York is here in the Quad Cities spraying foam down into sewer lines this week. Often times a resident's sewer backs up when a root grows into the sewer line itself. Objects like paper get caught up in the root and you have a clog.

"That foam will stick in there and adhere to the roots. And usually within about 24 hours those roots are dead," said Harry Bush, Duke’s Root Control Crew Leader.

The process is quick, and previously identified problem areas should only take the two-man crew a week to finish.

"These here are six inch lines, so they only take about six minutes apiece," Bush said.

Davenport has a three year contract with the company for $50,000 a year. It's being billed as a cheaper alternative to traditional methods.

"A root actually grows back twice as fast, twice as big every time you cut it. Whereas this we do a one-time shot, we guarantee it for two years against any blockages," added Bush.

That forward thinking is something citizens like to hear.

"Any time you can get ahead of the problem its good," said Gary Bell, a Davenport homeowner who watched the process Monday morning.

While it will take out a few roots below the surface, everything above ground will carry on as usual.

"It's not going to harm the tree at all. It'll travel out of the pipe about six inches. And it’s non-systemic, so grandma's tree is safe," Bush said.

It’s a targeted approach that could stop costly lawsuits when backups pit the city against homeowners.

"It'll probably go up their lateral about two feet. So it's going to attack any root that's in that lateral for about two feet, and it'll do it down the whole block. That's pretty much where all the problems are with a lateral is where it connects into the city line," said Bush.

All that foam is eventually washed away after about 24 hours. It then ends up at the city's waste water treatment plant where anything harmful is removed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.