2017 Television: In-Depth Reporting - Silver

NOVA investigated the science behind the disastrous results that occurred when officials in Flint, Michigan decided to change the city’s water source to save money but ─ by overlooking a crucial corrosion control process ─ allowed lead from old lead water pipes to leach into the city’s drinking water. Thousands of residents, including particularly vulnerable children, were exposed to dangerously elevated levels of lead. In interviews with scientists, residents and public officials, NOVA explored the impact of the health crisis in Flint and beyond, noting that other water systems across the country have aging lead pipes that are similarly vulnerable. The program delved into the complexities of water chemistry and the biology of lead poisoning. It also described the distortion and dismissal of scientific research to support a misguided policy. “Poisoned Water” takes a thorough look behind the headlines to give viewers insight both into the environmental and human costs of the Flint water crisis as well as how public officials actively hid the danger thereby eroding the public trust. Guy Gugliotta, a freelance science writer, called the program “a tremendous public service, quite riveting and dripping with outrage.” Smith and Thomson said their award “not only honors the hard work of our production team, but also the heroic people of Flint and the independent investigative scientists – who all trusted us with their stories and without whom there would be no film.” Llewellyn Smith previously won the award in 2007 in the television category.