By Jenny Holtermann, Executive Director, WAKC

Press Release Provided by Water Association of Kern County

The Water Association of Kern County was proud to present our Water Leaders of the Year & Water Legacy Awards at our 2021 WAKC Annual Meeting on Tuesday, November 9th at Seven Oaks Country Club.

Scott Kuney, Young Wooldridge, presented the Water Legacy Award to Dana Munn.

Our members and guests gathered last week for our 65th Annual Meeting. We were excited to come together and surprise our award recipients. Gene Lundquist, outgoing WAKC President, welcomed everyone to the Annual Meeting and introduced the evenings agenda. Guest Speaker, Charles Wilson spoke on the efforts by the Southern California Water Coalition.

WAKC elected new officers and board members as presented by Jason Giannelli, chair of the nominating committee. Scott Thayer, Castle & Cooke California, was elected as the President. Jason Giannelli, Kern County Farm Bureau, was elected as 1st Vice President. Stephanie Hearn, GEI Consultants, was elected 2nd Vice President. Kristina Budak, Kern County Water Agency, was elected Treasurer. Dolores Salgado, IEC an Ardurra Company, was elected Secretary. WAKC will also be joined by new board members; Samuel Blue (City of Bakersfield), Dave Hampton (North Kern Water District), John Gaugel (Wonderful Orchards), Mike Ming (Alliance Ag Appraisals), and Vanessa Yap (Kern Tulare Water District).

Every year WAKC presents the Water Leader of the Year and the Water Legacy Awards at the Annual Meeting. The Water Leader of the Year award is presented to for significant contributions, leadership and integrity. This year, Tom McCarthy of the Kern County Water Agency presented the Water Leaders of the Year award to Martin & Jeanne Varga. Martin & Jeanne both are retiring this year after decades of service to Kern County water.

Jeanne is a past president of WAKC and served on the board for years. She worked in water education and public information for over 24 years for the Kern County Water Agency. Tom stated “She started the first formal water education outreach program, developed program curriculum, and worked with the Agency’s Water Education consultant to develop the new standards-based water education curriculum for the Agency. She really was a pioneer in water education – before it was cool and everybody was doing it!”

Tom McCarthy of the Kern County Water Agency presented the Water Leaders of the Year award to Martin & Jeanne Varga. (Water Association of Kern County)

Martin Varga also has over 24 years of service to the Kern County Water Agency and nearly a decade of water engineering experience prior to that. Martin oversaw multiple complex projects to further expand Kern County water. Tom added “He was responsible for feasibility, design, bidding, construction, and commissioning of over $90 million ID4 expansion of the Henry C. Garnet Water Purification Plant. His technical oversight and leadership on the project led to the successful completion of the project on time and on budget. Which is rare for a project of that size.” Martin & Jeanne were together awarded the Water Leaders of the Year, and we thank them for their dedication to Kern County water.

Scott Kuney, Young Wooldridge, next presented the Water Legacy Award to honor a recipient who spent their lives working in water issues, demonstrated leadership and long-term commitment to Kern County water. Kuney presented the Water Legacy award to Dana Munn. Dana recently retired earlier this year as General Manager of Shafter Wasco Irrigation District. Dana also served as Kern River Watermaster since 2014. Dana’s deep knowledge of the Kern River and water rights is vast and indispensable. Kuney described Dana’s legacy with the key word build, “Dana was most energized at North Kern and Shafter- Wasco where he was able to build spreading ponds, canals & turnouts – this is where Dana’s creative water management really was able to shine! Finally, as Kern River Watermaster; Dana worked along- side the Army Corps to oversee the rebuild of two dams at Isabella Reservoir. But Dana’s great success as a Water Leader is built as a solid and strong foundation of honorable character.”

Dan, Dana’s son, was honored to receive the award on his father’s behalf and Dana zoomed into the award presentation from his home in Washington State.

The evening was a remarkable testament to the longevity of service in the amazing individuals that represent our Kern County water community.

The Water Association of Kern County is a non-profit organization designed to educate and inform Kern County citizens about water issues and events. Members consist of local water districts, agencies and affiliated groups and individuals. More information may be found at

For more information, contact: Jenny Holtermann –, 661-746-3300 or 661-477-8084

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