Water Line Repairs Done Illegally. When a property owner attempted to perform their own water line repair it resulted in the death of a healthy and flourishing tree. By having no regard for the tree or its network of roots they completely cut, exposed, and undermined the entire root ball of the tree. Not only did this result in the tree having to be cut down, it resulted in a dangerous water main work site condition.
An experienced water main contractor would have approached the water line repair in a different manner. Water main repairs can be accomplished by connecting excavations with a tunnel. A contractor experienced with water main work would have dug two separate excavations on either side of the tree, then made a small tunnel connecting the two excavations in order to perform the water line repair.
Instead this dangerous and unprofessional excavation and root damage resulted in this tree being cut down the same day the owner had attempted to make his own water line repairs. The Parks Department carefully regulates excavations around and under trees across NYC. Tree damage such as occurred at this site can result in fines and penalties far in excess of the actual cost of the water line repairs themselves. When a tree of this size is destroyed typical monetary penalties run into the tens of thousands of dollars, not including legal expenses to defend the violations. Sometimes fines and penalties can exceed six figures.
Excavating for water main or sewer work under a tree or the drip line of a tree is not to be taken lightly. Careful coordination is required between the NYC DOT, NYC DEP, and the Parks Department themselves. Frequently an Arborist has to be retained by the excavation contractor to oversee the excavation work. Working together with all concerned professionals a sewer and water main contractor can end the needless damage or destruction of trees, such as was the case during this water line repair. This death could have been avoided.