The fine is typical of the penalties levied against counties in the state's zero-tolerance zone, said Jeff Larson, manager of the permitting, compliance and enforcement program in the Georgia Environmental Protection Division's water protection branch.
The zone generally covers the greater Atlanta area and northwest Georgia.
Gwinnett's fine is part of an "expedited" order that doesn't require the county to make major changes in the way it manages the sewer system, Larson said.
Eighty-five of the 95 spills were of fewer than 10,000 gallons, said Jim Scarbrough, deputy director of the county Department of Public Utilities. The largest was a 66,000-gallon spill at West Liddell Road near Gwinnett Place mall.
Grease and/or root penetration into sewer lines caused 56 of the releases.
The state order does require Gwinnett to show it's attacking the problem.
The county has stepped up efforts to clear trees above sewer lines and make sure restaurants are pumping out traps that prevent grease from entering sewer lines, Scarbrough said.
"We're going around a little more often and checking their traps to make sure they're clean," he said.
Scarbrough said some releases are inevitable from a system with 2,000 miles of sewer line and 42,000 manholes.
"If you think about the potential [for problems]," he said. "I don't think we do that bad."
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution