Access to Water Must Prioritize Equity: A Fresh Perspective

Access to water should be a fundamental right, carefully managed to ensure equity for all. This perspective emerges as we reflect on recent events in Hawaii, where delays in water distribution during the Maui wildfires left many questioning the fairness of resource allocation.

Former deputy director of the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management, M. Kaleo Manuel, found himself at the center of controversy as reports emerged of his decision to wait over five hours before releasing water to firefighters battling the devastating blaze. While the delay was met with criticism, it also presents an opportunity to discuss the importance of equitable water distribution.

In a previous interview, Manuel described water as a sacred resource, emphasizing the need for unity rather than division when it comes to water distribution. His belief in the power of water to connect communities and promote social justice is thought-provoking. Instead of viewing water as a mere commodity, we should acknowledge its significance beyond practical necessity.

However, it is important to recognize that delays in water distribution can have severe consequences, as was evident in the tragic wildfires that claimed the lives of 111 people in Lahaina, Maui. Prompt action and efficient resource management are vital in emergency situations to prevent further loss and devastation.

Moving forward, public conversations about equity should be at the forefront of water management strategies. Collaborative efforts between government bodies, local communities, and relevant stakeholders can help develop comprehensive and inclusive policies that prioritize the needs of all. By encouraging dialogue and seeking diverse perspectives, we can work towards a future where access to water is not only a basic right but also an equitable reality.


Q: What is meant by “water distribution”?
A: Water distribution refers to the process of allocating and delivering water resources to various users or communities.

Q: What role did M. Kaleo Manuel play in water management?
A: M. Kaleo Manuel served as the former deputy director of the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management, overseeing water management and allocation in the state.

Q: What were the consequences of the delays in water distribution during the Maui wildfires?
A: The delays in water distribution during the Maui wildfires resulted in tragic loss of life, with at least 111 people losing their lives in the blaze.

Q: How can water management prioritize equity?
A: Water management can prioritize equity by actively engaging in conversations about fair allocation, involving various stakeholders, and developing inclusive policies that address the needs of all communities.