A Maui official allegedly withheld crucial water needed to extinguish the Maui fire, causing a five-hour delay in its delivery to firefighters.
The official’s name is Kaleo Manuel, and he served as the Deputy Director of Hawaii’s Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM).
The West Maui Land Company requested the commission’s approval to redirect additional water from streams to aid in firefighting efforts.
Rather than granting the request, CWRM inquired whether the Maui Fire Department had sought permission to access the reservoirs and advised the company to consult with downstream users to ensure that their water usage wouldn’t be affected by a temporary reduction in supply.
Amidst a fierce fire that was devastating everything, their focus was on regulations concerning the potential “impact” of water usage in the future.
West Maui Land Company said, “We watched the devastation around us without the ability to help. We anxiously awaited the morning, knowing that we could have made more water available to the Maui Fire Department (MFD) if our request had been immediately approved.”
As previously covered, Manuel, a former leader in the Obama Foundation, had created a video discussing his views on water usage and the importance of “equity” discussions. Unfortunately, his involvement with the Obama Foundation didn’t seem to benefit him or others in this situation.
REPORT: M. Kaleo Manuel, who was responsible for water management during the Maui fires, waited five hours to release water to residents who were burned alive.
During a debate last year, Manuel said water usage should be based on 'equity.'
Wokeism literally costs lives.
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) August 19, 2023
Manuel has been reassigned to a different role. However, when announcing his reassignment, the Department of Land and Resources stood by Manuel.
Hawaii’s governor has requested the state’s attorney general to conduct a comprehensive review of all actions taken in response to the fire. It remains to be seen if this review will be conducted impartially and result in accountability.
If the reports are accurate and Manuel indeed delayed water during the intense fire, reassignment appears to be an inadequate consequence.
Beyond reassignment, Manuel could potentially face more severe repercussions. The individuals who endured significant hardship due to his actions will likely have strong opinions on the matter.