Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Conservationists and other groups have filed a lawsuit accusing California officials of allowing companies to control and profit from a massive publicly financed water bank near Bakersfield.

The lawsuit filed Thursday says the California Department of Water Resources illegally transferred the state-owned Kern Water Bank to a joint-powers authority controlled by agricultural giant Paramount Farms and other private entities.

The plaintiffs also seek to invalidate provisions of the agreement known as Monterey Plus that allegedly resulted in water shortages and high utility rates in Southern California.

They say the agreement also promised water to irrigation districts and utilities in quantities that cannot be delivered.

Messages left with the Department of Water Resources and Paramount were not returned.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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