A Syracuse, New York company started work on Friday on a project to control roots that cause damage to the Cheyenne BOPU (Board of Public Utilities) sewer system.

BOPU spokeswoman Dena Egenhoff says tree and other plant roots can damage pipes and cause raw sewage to leak into the ground as well as sewage backups. The roots seek out sewer mains because the lines are rich in plant nutrients.

Small roots can penetrate the lines through cracks, joints or pinholes. But over time the roots grow larger and cause clogs, breaks or backups. Egenhoff says the BOPU awarded this year's contract for root control to Duke's Root Control, which she says uses an environmentally-friendly foaming agent that breaks down roots in the sewer system.

Areas of the sewer mains that have been invaded by roots were found using a BOPU robotic camera that goes down into the lines. She says it is important that the treatment is environmentally safe so that it doesn't kill the bacteria used to break down the sewage at the BOPU wastewater treatment plant.

Egenhoff says the root control project is expected to take about 2-3 weeks

She is also reminding property owners that the sewer lines from houses and other buildings to the sewer main is the property owner's responsibility.