Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) Deputy Director M. Kaleo Manuel has faced harsh scrutiny for communication issues that delayed water access during the Maui wildfires and is now reassigned.
According to Newsweek, an August 10 letter detailed how firefighters requested permission to divert water from area streams and lakes after using up their water reserves.
The letter noted that CWRM directed them to ask a local farmer about how this would affect their operations and that “communications were spotty.”
Five hours passed before approval was given to utilize these water resources.
As the details were made public after the catastrophic wildfires in Maui, outrage followed, and various allegations have been aimed at Manuel.
Turning Point USA Founder and CEO Charlie Kirk posted a video of Manuel describing his philosophy on treating water as a godly element.
Kirk wrote, “I’m sure all the victims of the Maui fire are grateful their leaders were focused on worshipping water rather than using it to save their lives.”
Here is M. Kaleo Manuel, the Hawaii water official who refused to release water resources and let landowners fight the Maui fire, explaining his "philosophy" about water:— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) August 17, 2023
"Native Hawaiians treated water as one of the earthly manifestations of a god…We've become used to looking… pic.twitter.com/hjsWqdVtxf
But the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, which oversees CWRM, told IJR that it “encourages the media and the public to avoid making judgments until all the facts are known.”
The DLNR also noted it is “re-deploying First Deputy of the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM), Kaleo Manuel, to a different DLNR division.”
“The purpose of this deployment is to permit CWRM and the Department to focus on the necessary work to assist the people of Maui recover from the devastation of wildfires,” it added.
The Hill reported that Hawaii Attorney General, Anne E. Lopez, announced an independent investigation into the state’s handling of the natural disaster.
This will be conducted by a “third-party private organization with experience in emergency management and processes.”
Lopez stated, “Having a third-party conduct the review will ensure accountability and transparency and reassure the people of Hawaii that all of the facts will be uncovered.”