A woman who played a key role in exposing the lead-tainted water disaster in Flint, Michigan, is among seven people from around the world to be awarded a Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmental activism.
LeeAnne Walters was repeatedly rebuffed by Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, even as she confronted regulators with bottles of brown water that came from her kitchen tap. Finally, with critical help from a Virginia Tech research team and a local doctor, it was revealed in 2015 that Flint’s water system was contaminated with lead due to a lack of treatment.
Walters, a mother of four, “worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring justice to not only her immediate family but all residents of Flint,” the Goldman Environmental Foundation said Monday in announcing this year’s winners.
The prize was created in 1989 by the late San Francisco philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Winners are selected from nominations made by environmental organizations and others. The prize carries a $200,000 award.
Walters now lives in Virginia but regularly returns to Flint, where thousands of home water lines are being replaced due to the lead crisis. The city’s water quality has improved since it stopped using the Flint River as its source after 18 months, although there are many concerns about lead that was ingested, especially by children.