Kaleo Manuel returned to his post Monday after the Attorney General reviewed “certain personnel events” related to the Maui fires.

The top deputy to the state Commission on Water Resource Management is back after being redeployed to another division of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources while the Attorney General investigated his actions during the Aug. 8 wildfires on Maui.

Dawn Chang, who leads the department and serves as chair of CWRM, announced Monday afternoon that Kaleo Manuel would return to his post immediately.

He was reassigned to another division at the request of the AG on Aug. 15 while a review of “certain personnel events” related to the fires was completed, a DLNR news release says.

CWRM Commission on Water Resource Management Meeting, Lahaina Water, DNLR
The Commission on Water Resource Management heard numerous people testify in support of reinstating Kaleo Manuel at its Sept. 19 meeting. (Courtesy: DLNR/2023)

Manuel was temporarily transferred to another position after questions arose about his decision to delay for several hours West Maui Land Company’s request to release water for landowners to potentially use to fight the fires Aug. 8.

Kaleo Manuel was reinstated Monday as first deputy to the chair of the Commission on Water Resource Management. (Courtesy: Dean Uyeno)
Kaleo Manuel was reinstated Monday as first deputy to the chair of CWRM. (Courtesy: Dean Uyeno)

For the past several weeks, his reassignment has been the subject of much public criticism and a lawsuit asking the court to return him to his previous job.

The Maui County Council was the most recent public forum Friday when council members took up a resolution urging the governor to reinstate Manuel, who has received broad public support.

“I was informed today, that the Attorney General has completed her review of this isolated issue,” Chang said in Monday’s news release. “I would like to thank Dean Uyeno for stepping in as the Acting Deputy Director of CWRM and appreciate his steady leadership of CWRM during this unprecedented time.”

No further information was provided in the release.

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