Judge: West Bay liable for 21 sewage spills


The West Bay Sanitary District has been found liable by a federal judge for 21 illegal sewage spills into creeks and sloughs that drain into the Bay.

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

With respect to the 21 spills, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen on Monday granted a summary judgment to the plaintiff in the case, San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental organization.

The judge said the district could incur up to $975,000 in fines under the federal Clean Water Act for those spills.

Baykeeper sought summary judgment on another 68 spills, but Judge Chen said that liability for those spills would have to be proven at a trial. After a trial, the district could appeal all of the rulings against it before fines are levied, according to the Associated Press.

West Bay Sanitary officials were not immediately available for comment.

In a press release, Baykeeper said that according to State Water Resource Board records, West Bay Sanitary District reported more than 300 sewer overflows between 2004 and 2010 that caused 60,000 gallons of sewage to flow into local creeks and sloughs that drain to the Bay.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 25, 2011 at 9:19 am

I'm not trying to minimize the impact of sewage in the Bay, but let's keep some perspective. 60,000 gallons over five plus years or less than one quart per year per resident in the WBS district. Heck I urinate that much each year hiking in the woods.
In the winter 2010 season alone about 200 million gallons were spilled into the Bay by cities and districts around the Bay (this from Baykeeper's own web site) and West Bay was responsible for 0.00006'th of that amount. Yep I'd say West Bay is a major criminal organization and should be given a life sentence.
The sewer overflows occurred between September 2004 and December 2009 and flowed into San Francisquito Creek, Los Trancos Creek, Ravenswood Slough and several other urban creeks in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. By the way most of those spills were due to flooding and tree roots poking holes in the collection pipes.

For a more info see Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 25, 2011 at 9:47 am

For the record, and only for the record, urinating in the woods is arguably better for the environment since the soil and the world of bacteria that live in it will do an excellent job of breaking down the urine without any help from a sewage district.

Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Why would a group want to fink to a federal agency about something they properly reported anyhow to local state authorities? What is their incentive to keep future spills from being covered up? During WWII, the bay was occupied with hundreds of different ships, blowing their bilges and not too long ago it was legal for recreation boats to dump directly into the bay. So, was this to simply a stunt to legitimize SF Bay Keeper to keep the donations that pile up and serve no other purpose to keep coming in? Their efforts would be better spent volunteering to teach local children to read.

Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on May 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm

What a crock. BayKeepers are nothing more than lawyers looking to make money. WBSD set the standard for reporting overflows. They reported overflows that no one else did. In fact the method of reporting by WBSD was adopted by the control board. So much for doing the right thing. This fine will have to be recovered through rates. What idiocy.

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