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EGLE gearing up for 2020 Census effort, results affect funding for environmental and public health protections

Michigan Be Counted Census LogoWith the U.S. Census taking place soon, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is helping ensure all Michiganders understand how important it is to "be counted" in the once-a-decade population tally. Each state department is part of a team working on making the census in Michigan a success.

"It is important to be counted because census numbers impact everyone in our state - families, individuals, children," notes Michael McClellan, director of EGLE's Environmental Support Division (ESD). "Our census count determines funding for public safety, including police and fire, health care, education, infrastructure, and other essential services.

"EGLE was appropriated $175 million in federal revenue in FY 2020, $25 million of which is directly related to the census count, while the rest indirectly corresponds to population numbers. The census count also shapes our congressional representation, impacts legislative districts and much, much more."

Census results also affect programs within EGLE, notes Christe Alwin of EGLE's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program, which works to reduce the discharge of pollutants in storm water to Michigan's surface waters. (An MS4 is a system of drainage that is not a combined sewer or part of a sewage treatment plants.)

"The MS4 program is required to use the census to determine the regulated area," Alwin said. "The census will identify areas of the state that have experienced population growth over the past 10 years and therefore have the potential to discharge an increased amount of urban pollution in storm water runoff. In the absence of representative census data, areas with population growth may not be subject to the MS4 program and surface waters may be impacted from untreated/uncontrolled storm water runoff in the built environment."

EGLE's Air Quality Division staff also notes the importance of the census. For example:

  • The census has a direct effect on the number, location, and type of ambient air monitoring conducted in communities, which provides the public with data about air quality. The number and location of monitors, except lead, which is related to industrial source emissions, are based on the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) geographical borders and population totals. The MSA are based on the most recent Census. Some monitoring requirements are based on smaller urban clusters, which are heavily impacted by the Census numbers.
  • Census data is used to develop inventories of air emissions. There are many source categories where each individual emission source is small but the number of sources are plentiful, and may correlate well with a particular census data element (for example, home heating emissions). For these categories, the Census data is critical to providing a reasonable estimate. The inventories developed are used for developing emission control strategies to maintain compliance with ambient air quality standards. In some circumstances, population may also dictate certain control strategies (for example, vehicle inspection maintenance for ozone nonattainment areas).

To help publicize the importance of responding to the census, EGLE's External Affairs team has been distributing census information at outreach events, and Katrina Robinson produced the State's "Be Counted" video.

Between March 12 - 20, invitations to respond online to the 2020 census will arrive. Be sure to be counted. It is convenient, confidential, and critical to Michigan and EGLE.

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