The Maui officer who made headlines for delaying permission to use water to battle the deadly wildfires has been moved to another position. This officer, Kaleo Manuel, held the position of Deputy Director at the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM).
When the fires broke out, the West Maui Land Company asked the Commission if they could take water from streams to help stop the fires. However, the response they got was unexpected.
The CWRM asked them to first check with people using the water downstream to see how they would be affected if there was less water for a little while.
Hawaiian official M. Kaleo Manuel refused to release water in Maui as the fire raged
Manuel is deputy director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources
Here he is explaining that water should be revered, not used:pic.twitter.com/iZ6PvghwqN
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) August 16, 2023
This decision was made even though the fires were quickly moving through areas where people lived and had already taken more than 100 lives. The main worry seemed to be about the short time there would be less water flowing downstream.
The land company said it was hard to watch the destruction and not be able to do more. They said, “We waited for the next day, knowing we could have given more water to the Maui Fire Department if they had said yes to our request right away.”
As for Manuel, he’s now in a different job within the Department of Land and Resources.
The department explained that moving him doesn’t mean he did something “bad.” They just want to focus on helping the people affected by the fires.
Before this job, Manuel worked with the Obama Foundation. He once made a video saying we should respect water and not just use it up. He talked about using water fairly.
Hawaii’s Democratic Governor, Josh Green, talked about how there’s always been tension about using water in Maui.
During a press talk on Monday, Governor Green mentioned, “For people who might not know, Maui has had problems about water for a long time.”
He added, “It’s important to be truthful. Some people didn’t want to use water to stop fires. I’ll let you think about that.”
The governor also said they are reviewing what choices were made during the fires. He mentioned that it’s hard to get water in places like Maui, especially “when we need to react quickly.”
Lastly, he pointed out that some people, possibly including Manuel, don’t want to use water to get ready for or fight fires, even when there’s danger from more storms.