The Monterey Agreement and Kern Water Bank have been sued for the return of a giant underground reservoir (known as the Kern Fan Element) to public ownership. According to a report by Contra Costa Times environmental writer Mike Taugher, the suit also seeks to recoup millions of dollars in taxpayers' money paid to Kern County landowners who sold water back to the state at a profit through a failed Delta environmental protection plan.
The Monterey Agreement, hammered out in 1994 behind closed doors, turned the Kern Water Bank, a 19,900 acre underground reservoir capable of storing millions of acre-feet of water, over to the Kern County Water Agency. The agency created a joint powers agreement called the Kern Water Bank Authority, The Kern Water Bank Authority formed two water storage districts, one special district and one private company (See California Farmer December 2009, Page 8)
As revealed in investigations by The Bay Area News Group, California Farmer and California Watch, the private company was Westside Mutual Water Co. This is a holding of Roll International Corp., which own Paramount Farming, and thus privately held by Stewart and Lynda Resnick. The upshot: Paramount controls all five water agencies and the Kern Water Bank. Recently the Kern Water Bank has been selling water to developers of new cities.
The suit was filed by a coalition of Delta farmers and environmentalists. Joining in the lawsuit are two Delta farm districts, the Central Delta Water Agency, the California Sport-fishing Protection Alliance and the California Water Impact Network and two individuals.