A state water agency in Hawaii has been accused of delaying the release of water from a traditional farm that landowners reportedly wanted to use to protect their property as the Maui wildfire spread last week.
According to the Honolulu Civil Beat, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) initially refused a request from West Maui Land, a real estate development company, to provide water to protect properties that were at risk in the area.
Fingers have been pointed at one official in particular, M. Kaleo Manuel, DLNR’s deputy director for water resource management.
The Honolulu Civil Beat reported:
With wildfires ravaging West Maui on Aug. 8, a state water official delayed the release of water that landowners wanted to help protect their property from fires. The water standoff played out over much of the day and the water didn’t come until too late.
The dispute involved the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ water resource management division and West Maui Land Co., which manages agricultural and residential subdivisions in West Maui as well as Launiupoko Irrigation Co., Launiupoko Water Co., Olowalu Water Co. and Ha’iku Town Water Association.
According to the sources, Manuel wanted West Maui Land to get permission from a taro, or kalo, farm located downstream from the company’s property. Manuel eventually released water but not until after the fire had spread. It was not clear on Monday how much damage the fire did in the interim or whether homes were damaged.
Manuel participates in the Obama Foundation’s Leaders Asia-Pacific program and prioritizes traditional local views on water.
Honolulu Civil Beat quoted Gov. Josh Green (D) as saying that there had been some local opposition in general to using the state’s scarce water resources to fight fires. A state bill to promote the use of state and private reservoirs for fire safety was proposed in 2022 by legislators from Maui, but was not passed.
Other state institutions are also facing scrutiny, especially Hawaiian Electric, which has been accused of focusing on climate change and renewable energy while neglecting wildfire risk.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.