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California farmers sue to stop lake water release

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- A group of Central California farmers have asked a judge to halt the release of water from behind a dam east of Fresno.

The Fresno Bee reports (http://bit.ly/1oj0nBh ) that a lawsuit filed this week by the Friant Water Authority, representing 15,000 East San Joaquin Valley farmers, seeks a temporary restraining order against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Bureau officials announced Tuesday that California's lingering drought has forced them to tap water behind Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River. The dam forms the Millerton Lake reservoir.

The bureau says Millerton Lake water is needed to meet their contractual water obligations to the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority.

But east-side growers say federal officials are not following a long-established water-rights pecking order in releasing Millerton water.

Federal leaders declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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Information from: The Fresno Bee, http://www.fresnobee.com

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