WATSONVILLE—Residents of Watsonville’s older adult communities can now get advanced notice when dangerous agricultural chemicals will be applied to fields near their residences.
Santa Cruz is one of four counties taking part in a pilot notification program in conjunction with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Riverside, Ventura and Stanislaus counties are also participating.
It is happening, for now, in the communities of Pajaro Village, Bay Village and Pajaro Vista on the southeast side of the city. Those neighborhoods were chosen for their proximity to agricultural fields. A statewide implementation is expected to start by 2024.
The program provides residents with an online database search function, and the option to sign up for notifications for planned pesticide applications of the pesticides 1,3-dichloropropene, chloropicrin and metam potassium on crops within a one-mile radius of a valid street address.
The notifications will be provided at least 36 hours prior to the scheduled application.
“We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with DPR on this pilot project and look forward to receiving comments and feedback from our community and growers, which will be important as DPR develops a statewide notification system,” said Santa Cruz County Agricultural Commissioner Juan Hidalgo.
The notification system will advance the state’s goal of alerting communities before pesticide applications occur, and will complement existing pesticide laws and regulations, state officials say.
“We’re thankful for the opportunity to work closely with Commissioner Hidalgo and his office to help integrate a notification pilot project in their county,” said Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Director Julie Henderson. “This pilot project, and others in Riverside, Ventura and Stanislaus counties, will provide valuable information, including feedback from community members, growers and other stakeholders that will inform the design of the statewide system.”
The program is funded through a $10 million allocation to DPR in the 2021-22 state budget.
Residents may use the system’s search function or sign up to receive a text or email notification. For information, visit agdept.com or call the Santa Cruz County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office at 763-8080.