This Woman Helped Save Flint

  • By Saad Amer
  • Posted 05.24.17
  • NOVA

LeeAnne Walters, a resident of Flint, Michigan, helped save the city from a lead water crisis by teaching herself water chemistry and collecting water samples. 

Running Time: 02:29


WALTERS: My family will never, ever, ever trust a water source again just because we’re told to.

WALTERS: That’s what came out of the tap

WALTERS: We were watching people hold up bags of hair and we were experiencing hair loss. We had rashes. They were holding up jugs a water that looked … discolored.

WALTERS: They kept telling us this was specific to our home … me and my husband realized it wasn’t just our house…we’re like, ‘How do we prove this? There’s all this physical evidence and nobody cares. And that’s when we decided to get to the science of it because you can’t argue with science. .

WALTERS: When I tested with Virginia Tech in accordance to the law, my average was 2,500 parts per billion and my highest was 13,500 parts per billion. Hazardous waste is 5,000 so our water was two and a half times that of hazardous waste.

WALTERS: Citizens testing their own water to prove that there’s a problem? No one’s ever done anything like that before.

WALTERS: When we first started testing, we were being dismissed and ridiculed and demeaned by the City and the State and the EPA. ‘Cause what we did was unheard of, it’d never been done before.

WALTERS: First we made sure it was a statistical test… So we made sure we had 45 participants in each of the five ZIP codes… to prove that it wasn’t just a problem at my home and that it was a problem throughout the entire city.

WALTERS: I figured out after doing research that the City and the State were breaking a federal law and not using corrosion controls… not using that corrosion control as that water is running through the pipes it was eating everything that’s been built up over all these years…eating it off the pipes and bringing it into our homes.

WALTERS: I tell people ‘If they don’t believe Flint is that bad, turn off the water to your house… for the entire week and-and see it is to live’ and then tell us how bad it’s not.

WALTERS:You don’t realize how much you use water on a daily basis until you can’t.


Vicente Franco
Mark Haygen
Saad Amer
© Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press/ZUMA

© 2017 WGBH Educational Foundation

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