Cumming water officials are blaming gravel and toilet paper for causing a 1,000- to 1,200-gallon sewer spill off Mark John Way.
The July 4 spill, which released sewage into a tributary of Big Creek, took less than two hours to repair. It likely resulted from upstream construction activity in surrounding subdivisions, said Jon Heard, director of the Cumming Utilities Department.
"The impact to the stream was minimal," Heard said. "We added lime to the affected area on the ground, receded the area with seed and covered it with wheat straw."
The city has had a problem with the area before, Heard said, adding that new appliances may be a culprit.
"We're worried that low-flow toilets and washing machines aren't producing enough water flow to keep the lines scoured," he said.
"They are good for you and your home and your pocketbook, but they aren't producing enough flow."
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division considers a major spill as anything more than 10,000 gallons. Last Friday's spill was far less than that, but could still result in fines.
In January 2007, the city had a 5,000-gallon spill, which drew a $500 fine. A series of eight fines in 2006 resulted in a $7,500 fine.
The city will usually make the construction company or entity responsible for the spill pay the fine.
But in Friday's case, Heard said it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. The city may end up having to pay the fine, if there is one.
After the cleanup, Heard said the department "performed lab tests and the results show typical levels of fecal coliform and very low levels of ammonia, both upstream and downstream of the spill area."