Activist who helped uncover Flint water crisis wins environmental prize

Activist who helped uncover Flint water crisis wins environmental prize
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A local activist who helped to expose the water crisis in Flint, Mich., has won a top environmental prize for her efforts.

LeeAnne Walters is one of the winners of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize, the organizers of the award announced on Monday.

“LeeAnne Walters led a citizens’ movement that tested the tap water in Flint, Michigan, and exposed the Flint water crisis, compelling the local, state, and federal governments to take action to ensure access to clean drinking water,” the press release stated.

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Walters was one of the first people to demand action in 2014 from local officials after discovering a rash on her twins following the city’s switch to a new water source. Soon Walters and all four of her children began experiencing health issues.

The city then found toxic amounts of lead in the water, and Walters began researching the impact of lead exposure, according to a press release.

Despite city officials saying that Walters was an isolated case, she created a local campaign to warn residents of the risk of contaminated water.

She also began collecting water samples and, with the help of a Virginia Tech professor, began testing the samples. The pair found that lead levels in the water were extremely high and publicly presented their findings.

Soon afterward Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced that Flint would stop using the Flint River as a drinking water source.

Walters "actively testifies and advocates for federal action to change lead testing standards and ensure oversight of water quality, while empowering other communities to act as citizen-scientists to safeguard their own water supplies," the Goldman prize stated.

Michigan officials announced earlier this month that they would stop providing bottled water to Flint and declared the drinking water safe. However, Flint officials pushed back, saying they don't trust the government's judgement.

Liberal filmmaker and activist Michael Moore protested the move at the Michigan state Capitol Friday, spraying "Flint water" at the building and telling Snyder to drink it.