Shocking news out of fire-ravaged Hawaii as the public is being made aware that a state water official delayed the release of water to stop the burn, citing concerns about approval from a tarot root farm.
Over the past week, violent fires have overtaken the tropical island resulting in the tragic deaths of over 110 citizens, including children.
“No one has ever seen this that is alive today – not this size, not this number, not this volume,” said Maui Police Chief John Pelletier. “And we’re not done.”
According to CNN, a search within the burn zone is still underway, but Hawaii Governor Josh Green suspects that well over 1,000 citizens are still unaccounted for.
Civil Beat reports that four people with knowledge of the situation said that the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) director for water resource management, M. Kaleo Manuel, hesitated to approve requests for more water from landowners, including West Maui Land Company.
West Maui Land Company, a land management team and real estate brokerage firm, had hoped the additional water supply would “help prevent the fire from spreading to properties managed by the company.”
Although Manuel eventually released the water, unnamed sources told Civil Beat that Manuel’s reluctance was because he was waiting for approval from a taro root farm located downstream from properties managed by West Maui Land Company.
News of Manuel’s decision sparked outrage online, which was exacerbated by a viral clip of him speaking about how water should be revered, not used, and how to approach preserving it as a natural resource.
The 90-second clip, posted by Jeremy Kaufman, the CEO of LBRY, has since racked up nearly 2.5 million views and features Manuel on a Zoom call.
“Water is an earthly manifestation of a god,” he said. “That reverence for a resource, that reciprocity in relationship was something that was really, really important to our worldview and wellbeing.”
“We’ve become used to looking at water as something we use, and not necessarily something that we revere as that thing that gives us life,” he continued. “Let water connect us and not divide us. We can share it, but it requires true conversations about equity.”
The post has since garnered nearly 1,000 comments on X (formerly Twitter), with users expressing outrage at Manuel’s statements. One X user who goes by the handle @starsportscard1 replied to Kauffman, asking why Manuel hadn’t been charged with any crimes.
In response, user @GoneAnon0 explained it’s because “the people who would put him in jail agree with his actions.”
Another user highlighted that Manuel is listed on the Obama Foundation’s website as an alumnus of its 2019 Leaders Asia-Pacific program.
The program is a workshop that engages “in values-based leadership discussions, skill-building for social change, and hands-on workshops.”
Earlier this week, Governor Green addressed the conflicts over Maui’s water supply, encouraging the media to explore the issue.
While he did not single out the incident between the DLNR and West Maui Land Company, he did mention that the conflicts are “being reshaped” and now include “opponents who do not want water to be used to fight fires.”
Green said: “One thing that people need to understand, especially those from far away, is that there’s been a great deal of water conflict on Maui for many years … It’s important that we’re honest about this. People have been fighting against the release of water to fight fires. I’ll leave that to you to explore.”
Although the government’s failure to pinpoint what caused the fires has sparked conspiracy theories online, CNN reports that Hawaiian Electric, a major power company in Maui, is currently taking the heat for not shutting down power when heavy winds produced threatening fire conditions.