skip to main content

'NOVA' film on Flint Water Crisis to feature Virginia Tech researchers

May 25, 2017

"NOVA: Poisoned Water" airs on PBS May 31 at 9 p.m. ET. Courtesy of PBS.

Image of the inside of a pipe with a logo on it
"NOVA: Poisoned Water" airs on PBS May 31 at 9 p.m. ET. Courtesy of PBS.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Siddhartha “Sid” Roy's current status as a student.

Virginia Tech students and researchers, including Marc Edwards, University Distinguished Professor, are featured on an upcoming episode of “NOVA,” the most-watched primetime science series on American television.

NOVA: Poisoned Water” debuts on PBS on Wednesday, May 31 at 9 p.m. ET and can be watched later online.

The film investigates what happened in Flint during the city's water crisis and "uncovers the science behind this manmade disaster— from the intricacies of water chemistry, to the biology of lead poisoning, to the misuse of science itself," according to NOVA.

"The water crisis in Flint has affected thousands of people, and we now know that many cities around the country are vulnerable," said Paula S. Apsell, NOVA's senior executive producer. "If we're going to tackle these problems, we have to understand why they're happening."

The story of Edwards' involvement in bringing Flint's water crisis to the forefront is well-known. After being contacted directly by Lee-Anne Walters, a concerned Flint resident and mother, Edwards and a team of more than 40 people helped residents conduct an unprecedented survey of water contamination in residents’ homes, which revealed high levels of lead and bacteria, such as Legionella, in the water supply, contradicting official reports that the murky water was safe.

Edwards and his Flint Water Study team also developed a model of investigative science and advocacy that included Freedom of Information Act requests to demonstrate and publicize government agency misconduct.

The team's role in uncovering the crisis in Flint has been widely reported by media from around the world, including The New York Times, Smithsonian magazine, Time, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, Nature, and Scientific American.

The NOVA film "explores the chemistry and engineering behind the Flint water crisis, and reveals the dangers of our aging U.S. water system," according to a news release. It is narrated by actor Joe Morton.

Also included in the documentary are Siddhartha “Sid” Roy, of Varanasi, India, a graduate student in the College of Engineering’s Civil and Environmental Engineering program, and Amy Pruden, the W. Thomas Rice Professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, among others.

Written by Jordan Fifer

Contact: