By Katherine Davis-Young
(Reuters) - The proprietors of a nudist resort in drought-hit Northern California have been accused of illegally diverting water from a nearby creek to feed their property, and pleaded not guilty on Monday to felony charges linked to the case.
Glyn and Lori Kay Stout, the owners of Lupin Lodge in Los Gatos, are accused of taking the water for their 80-year-old “clothing optional getaway,” which boasts a pool, tennis courts, volleyball and other activities for those who enjoy relaxing in the buff.
“Diversion of water in the middle of drought is worrisome to everyone and lends an urgency to the case,” Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Denise Raabe told Reuters.
California is in the fourth year of a catastrophic drought that has cost its farm sector billions and prompted the state's first-ever mandatory cutbacks in urban water use.
Prosecutors say the Stouts repeatedly used more than their fair share of water, siphoning water from a creek that they did not own the rights to between July and November 2014.
They are charged with felony conspiracy to commit trespassing for the purpose of injuring a property right. Two other resort employees are also charged in the case, and are due in court in September.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office says the Stouts asked permission from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to use water from the creek and were denied.
But prosecutors say wildlife cameras show individuals from the lodge carrying plastic tubing to the creek.
The Stouts could not immediately be reached for comment, but a recent newsletter for Lupin Lodge said the lodge had cut its water use by 40 percent this year, and that the lodge “owns the water sources for all of its water.”
If convicted, the couple faces up to three years in county jail.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)