Agency Headed By ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ Advocate Delayed Water Supplies That Would Have Fought Hawaii Fires, Letter Says



  • West Maui Land Co., a major water company in Maui, alleged in a letter that five hours passed between its request to divert water and its receipt of approval to do so from Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DNLR).
  • The company was instructed to contact a downstream farmer to ask about the impacts of a diversion on his operation, and by the time it had received approval it could no longer access the siphon that would have made the diversion work and enabled replenishment of water supply for firefighters.
  • M. Kaleo Manuel, DLNR’s deputy director of water resource management, “has focused on bringing planning and indigenous knowledge to the fields of water advocacy and management in Hawaii” and made comments suggesting that water use requires “true conversations about equity,” according to footage posted to Twitter and DLNR’s website. 

The agency headed by M. Kaleo Manuel, the deputy director of the water resource management commission for Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), delayed a requested diversion of water to fight the Maui wildfires on the grounds that such a diversion may have affected a local farmer, according to a letter sent by a Hawaiian water management company.

The West Maui Land Co. wrote an Aug. 10 letter to Manuel, the day after the fires had done most of their damage, explaining that there was a five-hour gap between the company’s 1 p.m. request to divert water from streams in order to assist the Maui Fire Department (MFD) in its effort to battle the blazes and the agency’s 6 p.m. approval of the request. Manuel’s agency delayed primarily because it was concerned about the impacts of a water diversion on a downstream local farmer, according to the letter.

By the time the company received approval to divert water, the company was “unable to reach the siphon release to make the adjustments that would have allowed more water to fill our reservoirs” and be accessible to MFD, according to the letter. Thus, the company was unable to provide as much water to MFD as it may have been able to otherwise, and fire hydrants reportedly ran dry in Lahania as the flames engulfed the town, according to Hawaii News Now. (RELATED: Beach-Lounging Biden Has ‘No Comment’ As Death Toll In Maui Nears 100)

West Maui Land Co Letter by Nick Pope on Scribd

West Maui Land Co Letter by Nick Pope

In response to the request, the agency asked West Maui Land Co. if MFD had requested access to the company’s reservoirs and to check in with a downstream user of the water in question to ensure that his water taro patch would not be adversely affected by a temporary decrease in his available water, according to the letter. The company had already made an effort to contact the downstream user, but the letter explained that communications were spotty and that time was of the essence.

The wildfires have resulted in at least 110 deaths, a figure that may rise as search efforts continue, according to CNN.

“In an emergency situation, or when an emergency is anticipated, a temporary reduction (not elimination) of water to one individual’s farm should not be prioritized over and delay efforts to save an entire community,” the letter says.

Manuel “has focused on bringing planning and indigenous knowledge to the fields of water advocacy and management in Hawaii” in his capacity as deputy director of water resource management, according to his biography page on the (DNLR) website.

In footage of an old Zoom meeting posted to Twitter, Manuel describes his view that Hawaiians revere water, and that its management in modern society necessitates “true conversations about equity.”

Meet M. Kaleo Manuel, the official who refused to release water in Maui, contributing to up to 106 deaths.

A Hawaiian Studies major, Kaleo prefers a traditional, holistic “One Water” approach where water is revered, not used.

Water requires “true conversations about equity”

— Jeremy Kauffman 🦔 (@jeremykauffman) August 16, 2023

The company’s letter posits that it is impossible to know if the situation would have turned out differently had the diversion’s approval been granted immediately upon receipt.

Manuel has been temporarily reassigned to a different position within NLDR as investigations into what may have gone wrong proceed, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.

He was also named as a 2019 Asia Pacific leader by the Obama Foundation, according to the Obama Foundation’s website.

The alleged hesitancy to divert the water joins the growing list of reported crucial failures of public and private institutions to respond to the crisis and mitigate its risks in advance. In addition to the alleged failure to immediately divert water, the Maui County crisis response official who did not sound emergency sirens had zero prior career experience in emergency management, the utility company whose downed power line reportedly sparked the fire reportedly focused on green energy while generally neglecting wildfire preparedness, the state had for years exercised questionable land management policies and the 911 system reportedly went offline.

The DLNR did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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August 17, 2023 2:03 pm

Self-inflicted. Hawaii has been this way for a long time. Hard to have sympathy for the people that voted for this BS.

Reply to  Shoki
August 17, 2023 2:16 pm

Sad situation. Obviously, Bribem will use this as a reason to send more aid to Ukraine.

Reply to  Scissor
August 17, 2023 3:38 pm

Sad indeed

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Energywise
August 17, 2023 4:30 pm

Criminal negligence. Sounds like a lawsuit.

Reply to  Scissor
August 18, 2023 2:02 am

Ukraine has received the equivalent of $2.8M per household, ongoing. Maui got $700 per household (presumably in the area affected, which is small relative to the island) in a one off payment.

Reply to  HotScot
August 18, 2023 5:11 pm

There are 16 million households in Ukraine. If each received $2.8M then the total amount would be $44.8 trillion. Check you stupid math.

Reply to  Hikaridai27
August 18, 2023 6:23 pm

Gee whiz. I quoted a source.

Lets put it this way. Ukraine got $113Bn that we know of for this war. Maui got next to nothing.

Check your stupid morals creep.

Reply to  HotScot
August 19, 2023 10:48 am

Checking your morals: Ukraine was attacked in a massive war with hundreds of thousands killed and millions of refugees flooding Europe, mostly women and children. Maui was caught in a local fire due to an electrical utility accident and the incompetence of local officials, over a hundred people killed. The magnitude of these two events is not on the same scale.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Hikaridai27
August 18, 2023 9:41 pm

M=1000, MM=1,000,000 What was that about stupid?

Bill Powers
Reply to  Shoki
August 17, 2023 2:26 pm

Bureaucracy Kills. Just say no.

Reply to  Shoki
August 17, 2023 2:30 pm

If the typical voter there had their way, the globe would have cooled off (due to their brilliant understanding and resulting policies of the Earth) and the weather would have prevented the need for electricity and the fire would not have started no power plant could be there to cause a spark.

Even lightning strikes would behave and stop mid air or inter the water and no longer cause wildfires anyway.

All the money saved by not needing energy for people would have solved the hunger crisis and the world would be without pain or people.

Richard Page
Reply to  Shoki
August 17, 2023 4:33 pm

A disaster just waiting to happen. Wonder how many other US states may have similar problems.

Neil Jordan
Reply to  Richard Page
August 17, 2023 6:42 pm

All fifty-seven, referring to the website:
“He was also named as a 2019 Asia Pacific leader by the Obama Foundation, according to the Obama Foundation’s website.”

J Boles
August 17, 2023 2:06 pm

Did you notice that in the last few years the far left loves to use the word INDIGENOUS? Therefore they must figure that anything indigenous MUST be better than the white way. Well not this time.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  J Boles
August 17, 2023 2:17 pm

Rational people associate ‘indigenous’ with incompetent at best and otherwise corrupt.

Reply to  J Boles
August 17, 2023 7:02 pm

in the last few years“?
More I think. I like words roo..

The word has four syllables. Only smart people are allowed to say it, (So I can’t).

Reply to  J Boles
August 18, 2023 2:05 am

I’m indigenous to the UK. Maybe I should start a campaign!

Richard Page
Reply to  HotScot
August 19, 2023 11:47 am

I sincerely doubt it – most of us are colonists of one flavour or another. The earliest (indigenous) people in the UK have been absorbed into the later colonist groups – we’re a motley bunch in the UK.

Reply to  J Boles
August 18, 2023 4:28 pm

It isn’t just words like “indigenous” that the left loves to use. They have other buzz words that they love to throw around but that are actually meaningless. For example, just what does “social justice” mean? For that matter both the words “society” and “justice” are vague and can mean anything you want them to mean if you spin it right. Is a convicted criminal or an illegal alien part of this “society?” Is a foreign tourist part of “society?” And just what is “environmental justice?” I’ve heard the expression endlessly. And what is “social equity?” Saying “indigenous peoples” sounds so sociological. I guess we are all supposed to be impressed by fancy words. Gosh, I’ve been to college too.

Tom Halla
August 17, 2023 2:06 pm

The National Lampoon is defunct, otherwise I would have suspected this was one of their parodies.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 17, 2023 2:11 pm

Parody is not dead.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Shoki
August 17, 2023 2:12 pm

The National Lampoon was considerably nastier.

Ed Zuiderwijk
August 17, 2023 2:16 pm

Woke has blood on its hands.

August 17, 2023 2:30 pm

It’s a good thing there weren’t any icebergs around or they would have hit it at high speed.

Rud Istvan
August 17, 2023 2:57 pm

I am going to slice and ice here. There were multiple blue state Maui government failures:

  1. Mr. Manuel says Hawaiians revere water, and it use must be equitable. The Hawaiian gods so commanded his indigenous ancestors. So Lahaina got none extra to fight the fire until too late.
  2. The head of Maui Emergency Messaging (EM) was the former chief of staff of Maui’s governor. Zero emergency response management experience for his new job. He’s the guy that failed to turn on the existing warning sirens.
  3. Invasive grasses on former sugar cane plantations. Could have brought in sheep and goats from dry Australia to eat them, then sell the meat—but no, inhumane. (By logical consistency, burning hundreds of humans to death is humane.)
  4. The local utility invested in renewables, rather than infrastructure fire remediation (wood==>steel, underground fireproof transmission cables).
  5. The capper. There is a 2014? study about this Lahaina fire danger. In the following decade, NOTHING was done concerning its recommendations. Experts knew this would happen. Gov did nothing. And then it happened as foreseen. So what happens to the negligent government? Probably nothing. Which will guaranteed just repeat the negligence cycle.
Tom in Florida
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 17, 2023 5:51 pm

#2 – The sirens are used for tsunami warnings only. A tsunami siren means run from the sea to higher ground. That would have driven people into the fire.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
August 17, 2023 7:10 pm

Of course if the sirens went off and you saw a huge wall of flames to the East and the Ocean to the West, you would immediately run into the flames to save yourself because that was how you were taught to respond to the siren warning.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Tom in Florida
August 17, 2023 7:30 pm

Thank goodness they didn’t use the sirens. People might have died otherwise.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
August 18, 2023 5:02 am

Someone posted a video clip yesterday on youtube of an official making that claim. But then also posted a screenshot of the local government website stating that the sirens are for all sorts of natural and man-made emergencies, NOT just for tsunami warnings only.

Reply to  DavsS
August 18, 2023 5:06 am

From the website:

  • “The all-hazard siren system can be used for a variety of both natural and human-caused events; including tsunamis, hurricanes, dam breaches, flooding, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, terrorist threats, hazardous material incidents, and more.”
Tom in Florida
Reply to  DavsS
August 18, 2023 2:42 pm

Did you fail to finish reading the website: (my bold)

When a siren tone is heard other than a scheduled test, tune into local Radio/TV/Cable stations for emergency information and instructions by official authorities. If you are in a low laying area near the coastline; evacuate to high grounds, inland, or vertically to the 4th floor and higher of a concrete building. Alerts may also come in form of a Wireless Emergency Alert.”

I lived on Oahu for 3 years near the water. We all knew that when the siren goes off, you don’t stop to evaluate, you get to higher ground. Tsunamis move at incredible speeds and any delay could cost you your life. So the immediate response to the siren for most people would have been to get their asses inland to higher ground. Then you tune in for further instructions. If even half the people had that reaction and were killed you would be criticizing the fact that they engaged the sirens.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 17, 2023 11:31 pm

Regarding (5):

Rod Evans
Reply to  Independent
August 17, 2023 11:54 pm

Plus ca change.

August 17, 2023 3:24 pm

Hmmm, Obama always seems to creep into situations like this….

Reply to  kaperegrine
August 17, 2023 3:40 pm

Did they find another Obama chef dead at the scene?

Reply to  AWG
August 17, 2023 10:12 pm

Apparently he was very well done when they found him.

Reply to  kaperegrine
August 17, 2023 4:03 pm

Obama => creep..

Ok . I’ll accept that !

abolition man
Reply to  kaperegrine
August 17, 2023 8:44 pm

There does not appear to be ANYTHING that committed Marxists cannot make worse or more dangerous! From fighting wildfires to fighting urban crime; the DEI crowd will drown the baby in the bath water and then celebrate how clean they got it!
You don’t HAVE to be a sociopath to be enamoured with their word games and fantasies, but it sure seems to be an asset!

August 17, 2023 3:34 pm

This is a tragedy of significant human incompetence – from non existent forestry and grassland management, to infrastructure mismanagement and ignored warnings

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Energywise
August 18, 2023 12:58 am

Because the ancestors said so.

Janice Moore
August 17, 2023 3:38 pm

(given that I am not mistaken about the facts)

If I had not heard back from the DNLR within 10 minutes, I would have relied on the well established tort law concept of “emergency”* and TURNED ON THAT SIPHON.

Why did they “wait for permission????!!!!!”

*A parallel example of this is where a person technically trespasses on someone’s dock to land their boat in a storm and due to the exigent circumstances it is not actionable trespass.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
August 17, 2023 3:40 pm

The liability for those deaths remains on the DNLR who acted with gross negligence at best. I am just wondering why those fighting the fire didn’t do what I would most certainly have done.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Janice Moore
August 17, 2023 3:53 pm

The old adage “do what is necessary and ask for forgiveness later” applies here.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Jim Gorman
August 17, 2023 6:06 pm

Oh, yes. Very much so!

That’s one of my SOPs:

“Easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”

It doesn’t necessarily imply that the potentially offended party would mind. There is something about the being asked permission that makes some people say, “No” when they really don’t mind.


They wouldn’t say “No,” except that what they care about is not being held responsible — so, if they don’t know, they weren’t responsible and everyone’s happy (that’s how I look at it).

So, that’s why I would, for instance, bring someone’s dog into a nursing home to visit them without getting permission (assuming that, even if it would likely be allowed, time was of the essence and it would take too long to go through the get-permission hoops), sneaking the dog inside. If you asked, you would get a “no” even if the employee really thought it was a great idea. When however, they see you leave with the dog (walking quickly and not stopping), you just smile — and they smile back.

Reply to  Janice Moore
August 18, 2023 9:01 am

Good question, Janice.

I’ve been taught (in firefighter training) that on a fire scene, the Incident Commander (almost always a fire chief) has full and absolute authority. He even has authority over law enforcement and can remove them from the scene. If he wants water, he gets water, no need to wait for higher approval.

Given that, I have to wonder if there was something that needed to be done upstream before they could use this water source. I could see that being a problem.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Tony_G
August 18, 2023 10:55 am

Thank you for that information, Tony G.. You are probably right. Then, one wonders….. WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE JUMP IN A JEEP AND GO DO WHAT NEEDED TO BE DONE (given, they could have done that in time for it to help extinguish the fire).

Hey, if you are the same Tony G. who I used to “talk” to here, once in awhile, it’s good you HAD firefighter training — being the supervisor of students in a chemistry lab, that probably came in handy. 😄

Hope all is well with you and yours. When it comes, enjoy all that beautiful autumn color you folks get to enjoy back east. 🙂

Reply to  Janice Moore
August 18, 2023 11:00 am

We have definitely chatted, but that must be another Tony G you’re remembering – there is at least one other who posts occasionally. I never taught chemistry.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Tony_G
August 18, 2023 4:46 pm

Well, “Hi” anyway. 🙂

Len Werner
August 17, 2023 4:36 pm

As someone who had to get through mandatory courses on respecting Indigenous ‘other ways of knowing’ and DEI in order to maintain my registration in Engineers and Geoscientists BC, I’m afraid that this is a time to welcome everyone to ‘The New Normal’. In the aftermath once the ashes have settled, whether charges of manslaughter are brought or not, will show us just how normalized (possibly criminal) woke absurdity has become.

I admit I was baffled when it happened at just how this could have evolved to this ending when considering for how long the susceptibility to a catastrophic fire has been known and blissfully ignored–but then I remembered a phrase from somewhere–‘Maui Wowie’–so I looked it up. It is possible there may have been more than one species of combustible invasive plant at play in the process.

As the legend goes, counterculture hippies, activists, and veterans fled to the Hawaiian Islands during the Vietnam War, but found themselves in some strife with native Hawaiians who struggled to accept statehood. During a large psychedelic party, the two sects of people bridged the gap – and it’s all thanks to Maui Wowie. The native Hawaiians, as the story goes, smelled the hippies smoking weed and decided to join in, sharing their own strains. The non-natives were wowed by the ones the Hawaiians provided and wound up calling it “Maui Wowie.” 

Gary Pearse
August 17, 2023 4:38 pm

I dont know what the penalty would have been, but I would have immediately taken the water needed to save what I could of the community. Mr. Kaleo, a “Hawaiian Studies Major” running the water authority:

“Water requires “true conversations about equity””

Clearly, the single farmer at the end of the system is a Hawaiian. Kaleo may bring his native based knowledge to water, but I know a farm can last a day or two without water, and I know a farmer understands he needs his own reservoir of water on hand.

August 17, 2023 4:39 pm

In the military you learn it is always better to apologize than ask permission. Okay, a terrible fire, but equity, man!

August 17, 2023 4:40 pm

Your tax dollars at waste.

August 17, 2023 6:57 pm

The wildfires have resulted in at least 110 deaths
110 / 7,000,000,000?
In certain worldviews one person dying is tragic.
In the prevailing secularism? If overpopulation is to be considered? If AI can do my job better than me?

August 17, 2023 9:39 pm

WTF? During an emergency? Just do it, then get approval later. Bureaucrats are so stupid. The icing on the cake is blaming climate change for your inept planning and response.

August 17, 2023 10:38 pm

Well at least the sensibilities of the indigenous were respected. Our political leadership despises us.

Reply to  Keitho
August 18, 2023 1:13 am

As I do them!

August 17, 2023 11:15 pm

No time to waste for climate activists and other death profiteers to disseminate their BS :

  • did anyone see this book sold 2 days only after the disaster on Amazon ?

Rod Evans
August 17, 2023 11:46 pm

If a public official fails to carry out their duties and responsibilities, and if that failure results in harm to the community they are nominated to oversee. then that official is liable to face charges and justice, for their failure to carry out their duty.
In times of emergency incompetence and inadequate timely decision making is not acceptable.

Eric Vieira
August 18, 2023 12:08 am

I recently saw a video where the town was surrounded by a nearly perfect ring of fire. Mysteriously, most of the boats were also all burning at once. This was a catastrophe, but not an accident. It really looks intentional. I smell a land grab, and pure lawlessness.

Reply to  Eric Vieira
August 18, 2023 2:17 am

Please God, no. Not another whacky theory about lizards.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  HotScot
August 18, 2023 7:48 am

There are people going around saying the fires were caused by directed energy weapons (DEWs)

Reply to  Dave Andrews
August 18, 2023 6:24 pm

I guess they’re not good enough to win a war in Ukraine.

Richard Page
Reply to  Dave Andrews
August 19, 2023 11:51 am

I’m disappointed that they weren’t able to work UFO’s, aliens and chem-trails in there!

August 18, 2023 4:45 am

In 2022, two Maui senators, Gil Keith-Agaran and Lynne DeCoite, introduced a measure to push DLNR to allow fresh water to be used to fight fires and pointed to West Maui as being particularly vulnerable.

The bill noted that “in 2019, West Maui suffered from an active fire season in which wildfires scorched twenty-five thousand acres of land.” It would have required DLNR to “cooperate with the counties and reservoir owners to develop protocols and agreements for the use of reservoir waters for fire safety purposes.”

That never happened. And this is the result.

D Boss
August 18, 2023 5:10 am

The woke + green = malevolent, anti human death cult has and will kill people. Not diverting water to reservoirs of the town so fire hydrants go dry whilst fighting a raging wildfire is criminal. I include the idiots who did not simply turn on the water diversion without permission, because a fire emergency trumps all regulation.

Firefighters have carte blanche to overcome obstacles in fighting fires, like if you foolishly park in front of a hydrant they will simply smash your side windows and run the 4 inch hose feeding the pumper truck right through your car – and you have no legal or civil recourse.

And no you can’t run the hose over or under the car, at 80 psi that hose is as solid as a piece of steel – i.e. it cannot bend much without reducing the water flow.

So those complaining about not having permission to divert the water are equally guilty of negligence as the idiot who delayed permission. They should have just acted without permission and nothing would happen to them, or the court of public opinion would be on their side if some bureaucrat tried to sanction them.

Reply to  D Boss
August 18, 2023 9:06 am

D Boss, the only reasonable explanation for me would be that they needed some action done upstream in order to access the water. From what I’m reading, that doesn’t seem to be the case though.

August 18, 2023 5:28 am

Looks very like gusting winds brought power lines and trafos down, sparking and exploding, just like CA a few years back.
Those power line poles look like something from the 1950’s – they should be underground.
That looks like an ENRON effect – deregulation, no infrastructure investment.

Reply to  bonbon
August 18, 2023 10:48 am

Only regulation would get MOST overhead power lines underground.

Why? Because it is incredibly more expensive.

AND if regulators and lawmakers were not forcing the utility to run power lines to unreliable “energy” sources and to purchase that unreliable “energy”, the utility might have had the funds to properly maintain their existing lines.

Government regulations set the utilities priorities.

August 18, 2023 8:57 am

According to The Guardian, colonialism and evil capitalism were the cause of the water shortage. Note the authors.
– – – – – – – – –

Why was there no water to fight the fire in Maui? (By Naomi Klein and Kapuaʻala Sproat)
Big corporations, golf courses and hotels have been taking water from locals for years. Now the fire may result in even more devastating water theft

August 18, 2023 10:52 am

Death by. Bureacracy.

Tombstone Gabby
August 18, 2023 5:03 pm

The wildfires have resulted in at least 110 deaths,…”

The latest figure I’ve seen for “Unaccounted For” was 1,000.

Richard Page
Reply to  Tombstone Gabby
August 19, 2023 11:53 am

I think I’ve seen that figure edge upwards to about 1,300 unaccounted for which is pretty horrific.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Richard Page
August 19, 2023 12:15 pm

G’Day Richard,

“…1,300 unaccounted…”

That was the first figure I saw, then 24 hours later the “1,000”. Just estimates. We’ll probably never get an accurate figure. “Horrific” is an understatement…..

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