The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and the Air Resources Board (ARB) will hold a public meeting Sept. 28, in Modesto, Calif., to discuss efforts to reduce ozone forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from pesticides in the San Joaquin Valley.

The meeting, to be held from 5-7 p.m. at Harvest Hall in the Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner's office, is to provide information about DPR's recent actions to reduce pesticide VOC emissions from fumigant use and to explore future opportunities to reduce pesticide VOC emissions.

ARB and DPR staff will make brief presentations. The majority of the meeting is devoted to public comment and discussion.

Randy Segawa, environmental program manager for DPR's air program, explained that under the federal Clean Air Act, each state must specify how it will reduce smog-producing emissions, detailing these measures in a federally-approved State Implementation Plan (SIP). Agricultural and structural pesticide use is among many contributors of smog-forming VOC emissions in the San Joaquin Valley.

In California's 1994 SIP for the one-hour ozone standard, DPR committed to reduce pesticide VOC emissions in various federal non-attainment areas, including the San Joaquin Valley. To address the federal eight-hour ozone standard, DPR established a not-to-exceed pesticide VOC emission limit of 18.1 tons per day for the San Joaquin Valley, implemented regulations prohibiting the use of high-emitting fumigant application methods, and committed to reduce pesticide VOC emissions from non-fumigant pesticide products. Together, these commitments and regulations make up California's revised pesticide SIP.

This meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to learn about these regulatory efforts to reduce pesticide emissions and the associated SIP revisions. There will also be discussion of DPR plans to evaluate the potential for additional emission reductions from non-fumigant pesticides in the San Joaquin Valley.

Segawa detailed the plan at the Western Plant Health Association Regulatory Issues Conference in Sacramento.

VOCs are just one of the many issues on the DPR plate that continues to fill up in what Chuck Andrews, DPR associate director, called “challenging times.”

These challenges at DPR have moved to a new arena in the era of state fiscal constraints with fewer hours to do more work.

Andrews said the three state-mandated furlough days per month is resulting a 14 percent in staff resources.

DPR has been ordered to reduce its contracts for outside work by $600,000 this year and by 15 percent for the next fiscal year.

As the department deals with issues ranging from regulating fumigants to keeping pesticides out of surface and groundwater, it is also facing a staffing problem.

Andrews detailed that from 20 percent to as many as 71 percent of current department staff are eligible for retirement now. In the next five years, from 50 percent to 90 percent of department personnel will be eligible for retirement.

The department is aggressively seeking replacements going to job fairs and advertising for specific positions.

It is also developing management training programs within the department to encourage people to move up and is working on new employee orientation programs as well as added employee recognition efforts.