The latest report from the Council on Environmental Quality says the state isn't equipped to monitor thousands of pesticide products and companies in Connecticut.
According to the CEQ, staffing and budget reductions are a big reason why.
Karl Wagener is the CEQ’s executive director. He said the state used to have a more robust operation to police pesticides -- making sure legal products were used and that contractors were certified.
There was even a system set up, which collects money from pesticide sellers and applicators. That money was supposed to go to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for enforcement, but a few years back, those fees were first swept into the general fund.
“It's a profit center within state government,” Wagener said. “They're taking in perhaps $3 million annually. And they're spending far less than that on the management of pesticides.”
Wagener said today that equates to fewer staff keeping an eye out for violators.
“If you subscribe to the idea that the money that they collect should be used for the programs for which it was collected -- it has not gone well,” Wagener said.
To counter that, the CEQ recommended in its report establishing a special fund for receiving and expending pesticide revenue, rather than it being sloshed into general revenue.
It also recommended digitizing records now kept on paper.
Wagener said for its report, the CEQ thought it could go through DEEP’s files to determine which pesticides were being used the most.
“But then we saw the files and there are these file cabinets just full of paper,” Wagener said. “Huge amounts of paper records that nobody can really use effectively.”
Wagener said if a special fund was created -- some of that money could be used to update the department.
Still, any changes could be tough as Connecticut wrestles with massive budget deficits.