Flint, Michigan Water Activist Leeanne Walters Wins Goldman Environmental Prize, Says Sharon Kleyne

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Water Educator Sharon Kleyne Celebrates Walters’ Proactive Water Activism. Sharon Kleyne Says Earth Needs More Water Pioneers Like Flint’s LeeAnne Walters.

Sharon Kleyne, host of the nationally syndicated The Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water, Global Climate Change and Your Health on VoiceAmerica sponsored by Nature’s Tears® EyeMist®, has been teaching new water technology and water awareness on air for more than a decade. When the Flint, Michigan water disaster hit the mainstream news in 2014, Kleyne was among the first commentators to study the issues.

Today, Kleyne celebrates the awarding of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize to LeeAnne Walters, the mother-of-four who, according to a BBC report, “led a citizens’ movement that tested the tap water to expose the health threat.” That movement also prompted heel-dragging politicians and city officials to greatly step up efforts to replace contaminated pipes and supply bottled water to residents during the crisis.

To review the crisis, Kleyne recalled how almost 100,000 Flint residents found themselves without safe tap water due to the fact that lead was leaching into the water supply. Walters had the water in her home tested, and they showed that the water was seven times the acceptable level. Walters noted that her three-year-old twins developed rashes and the hair of her daughters fell out in clumps.

As if she had embraced Kleyne’s playbook for proactive engagement in solving water crises, Walters studied technical documents about the Flint water system, then joined environmental engineer, Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech, to conduct extensive water testing in the city. The pair tested water in every zip code in Flint, with Walters working over a hundred hours a week for three weeks. Tested water in some parts of the city seriously exceeded safe levels for lead. Their study, according to Kleyne, traced contamination to the city switching its water supply from Detroit’s water system, which comes from Lake Huron, to and drawing water from the polluted Flint River. Flint has since switched back to using Detroit’s water system.

In their citation, Goldman Environmental Prize jurors praised Walters’ “inquisitive, persistent, and logical mind. Her communal spirit and powerful moral compass proved equally critical to her ability to reach and organize Flint residents and experts alike.” The prize is awarded to recipients in several global regions; Walters is this year’s recipient from North America.

Kleyne, also the founder and research director of Bio-Logic Aqua® Research Water Life Science®, says that Walters’ proactive research and activism should be an inspiration and a blueprint for people worldwide. Kleyne, whose own water research and new water technology has earned the international respect of scientists, researchers, physicians and water activists, would like to see water education classes taught at all school levels, thus encouraging the kind of positive activism exemplified by the efforts of LeeAnne Walters. “We are all citizens,” says Kleyne, “with a responsibility to manage our precious water supplies and resources.”

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