Water News

Thomson, Averett win WAKC awards


Roy Pierucci, left, presents the Water Leader of the Year Award to Eric Averett, general manager of Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District.


Jack Thomson, left, receives the Water Legacy Award from Will Boschman. Thomson received the award for his long-time dedication to water issues in Kern County.

The Water Association of Kern County (WAKC), awarded Jack Thomson, long-time water leader, the first Water Association of Kern County Water Legacy Award at the organization’s annual meeting on November 1. Thomson, an original signatory on the State Water Project and a long-time board member of Kern County Water Agency was recognized for his long dedication to water issues, agriculture and civic responsibility.

Born in Oil Center, CA to John (Jack) Thomson, an immigrant from Scotland, and Naomi Crawford Thomson, who was born on the family farm near Buttonwillow, young Jack and his family moved around southern California during the Depression but ended up back in Buttonwillow by the mid-1930s. Thomson attended Kern County High School and was chosen as one of twelve outstanding seniors in the 1940 class of 780 students.

He attended Bakersfield College then in 1942, went to the University of California at Davis until the campus was taken over by the Signal Corps and closed to academics during World War II. In 1943, he transferred to U.C. Berkeley until he was called into the U.S. Navy Air to begin pilot training. From 1943-46 he trained as a fighter pilot in multi-engine planes. After release from the Navy in 1946, he returned to Davis to complete his degree.

In December 1946, he married Mary Louise Frick and, unfortunately, Mary Lou passed away in October. They would have celebrated 70 years together this December.

Thomson completed his degree at Davis where he graduated in the first class following WWII.

The Thomsons returned to Kern County in November 1947 and began farming. In 1955, he was selected by the U.S. .Junior Chamber of Commerce as one of four outstanding Young Farmers in the nation because of his innovative farming methods, family and community service. In 1957, the family moved from Buttonwillow to the Vineland area where he began to also farm the ranch of his father-in-law, Lloyd Frick.

Thomson served as president of the Kern County Farm Bureau from 1957-1959 and was involved in the establishment of the Water Association of Kern County. From 1962-1982, he served as one of the first members of the board of the Kern County Water Agency and is a signatory on the State Water Project contract for Kern County. During his 21 consecutive years of service, he served as President of the agency board three times. Also at this time, he was a member of the Kern County Civil Service Commission, served on the board of the Bear Mountain Winery, Arvin Congregational Church and was elected to the board of trustees of the Vineland School District.

In 1982 Governor Deukmejian appointed Thomson to the California Water Commission where he served until 1990. From 1982-94, he served on the Board of Directors for Cotton Incorporated and chaired the International Marketing Committee. From 1983-98, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the California Living Museum and served as President one term and later joined the CALM Foundation Board. From 1992-2000, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Supima Cotton Board. He has been a member of the Chancellor’s Club at UC Davis since 1976.

Also honored at the annual meeting was Eric Averett, general manager of Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District who received the 2016 Water Leader of the Year Award. Averett has been active in the water community since the early 1990s and has a B.S. degree in Environmental Resource Management from California State University Bakersfield. He has served as adjunct professor for the Kern Community and Taft Community College systems since 1999 where he teaches classes on physical and chemical processes in water treatment.

He also teaches water -related courses throughout California and Nevada for the American Water Works Association and is certified as a Treatment and Distribution Operator with the State of California at the T5/D5 level.

He has been a general manager of a water district since 2008 but made his mark more recently serving as chair of the Kern River Watershed Coalition and manager of the Kern Groundwater Authority. These mammoth efforts cover very difficult topics and challenges and Averett was honored for showing leadership and perseverance in managing so many varying interests and positions.

Water Fact

California grows 43 percent of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables and more than 90 percent of its almonds, grapes, and broccoli. California farmers need water to grow food.

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