Jason Malke of Marinette holds up one end of the giant root he extracted from a sewer pipe in Peshtigo. The root measured 20 feet, 6 inches. (EagleHerald/Mike Desotell)
Jason Malke of Marinette holds up one end of the giant root he extracted from a sewer pipe in Peshtigo. The root measured 20 feet, 6 inches. (EagleHerald/Mike Desotell)
MARINETTE - Police, fire and neighborhood watch programs all help take care of a community on the surface. But who watches out for what lurks below? Who guards us against the unsavory elements of the underworld?

The answer: Jason Malke.

Last week Tom Mueller of Peshtigo noticed something wasn't right so he called Malke, owner of Straight Flush Sewer Cleaning.

Malke was familiar with what was happening. He had been to Mueller's just last month where he removed a number of large roots from the sewer pipe, some as long as 5 feet.

The battleground was smack dab in the middle of Mueller's backyard in an area where several large trees had been removed years ago. Malke unpacked his gear, including a steel snake, a long winding cable that spins on a reel with a 31/2-inch cutter on the end.

"I just brought the machine out back and went through the clean-out and expected to find something small in there and lo and behold 'Rootzilla' appears," exclaimed Malke. "The root itself is 20 feet, 6 inches long."

Malke said most roots he deals with are usually between a foot and 2 feet long, tops. "This is something I've never come across before and some friends of mine that are plumbers said the same thing. They've never seen anything this big!"

Malke thought for sure it could be a new world record. "I've been doing this since '92 and I've never seen anything this big before." He was so excited he called a friend to come down and take pictures. "I told the customer I was going to take the bag of roots with me and I wouldn't charge him anything for it, it was going to be a freebie. There was no way I could charge for something this unbelievable."

"Rootzilla" is no longer a threat to the free flow of water: It's safely above ground at Malke's home. The question now is, what does he plan on doing with it?

"I haven't really thought about it yet. I have a few options, maybe start up a kids park and show it," he laughed. One thing Malke did say he was going to do is make a special certificate for Mueller recognizing his sewer pipe as the birthplace of "Rootzilla."

On a serious note, Malke said a lot of people think chemicals alone will take care of root problems when in fact chemicals will only slow the process down. "The only thing you can do is run the machine through to clean the roots out or replace the pipe. If you don't do either one, this is what's going to happen and you don't want 'Rootzilla' taking over your home."

Mueller said he's very happy with how everything worked out. "Now that the beast is gone, the water just shoots right down the drain."

Mike Desotell can be contacted at 715-735-7500, ext. 145, or at mdesotell@eagleherald.com.