MENLO PARK (CBS / AP) — A sanitary district serving parts of San Mateo County is responsible for 21 illegal sewage spills into a number of creeks and sloughs that drain into the bay, a federal judge has found.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen also ruled Monday that the West Bay Sanitary District’s sewage collection pipes need repairs. For the spills, the district could be fined up to $975,000 in federal Clean Water Act violations.

The district serves Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley, East Palo Alto and Woodside, and other areas.

Attorneys for plaintiff San Francisco Baykeeper sued the district in 2009 after state data showed it had reported more than 300 sewer overflows of 60,000 gallons between 2004 and 2010.

Chen found that the district was not permitted for the discharges, as is required under federal clean water laws.

West Bay’s sewer system overflowed into San Francisquito Creek, Los Trancos Creek, Ravenswood Slough, San Francisco Bay and other waterways.

A representative from the sanitary district did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The judge said 68 other spills that Baykeeper is seeking action on will have to be proved in a trial. After that proceeding, the district could appeal all of the rulings against it before fines are levied.

Nearly 250 million gallons of raw or partially treated sewage spilled into San Francisco Bay during the 2010-2011 rainy season, state data collected by Baykeeper show.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


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