23 Aug Why was there no water to fight Maui’s fires?
August 17, 2023
By Naomi Klein and Kapua’ala 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
All over Maui, golf courses glisten emerald green, hotels manage to fill their pools and corporations stockpile water to sell to luxury estates. And yet, when it came time to fight the fires, some hoses ran dry. Why?
The reason is the long-running battle over west Maui’s most precious natural resource: water. That’s why, on Tuesday 8 August, when Tereariʻi Chandler-ʻĪao was fleeing the fires in Lahaina, she grabbed a bag of clothes, some food – and something a little unconventional: a box filled with water use permit applications.
Despite her personal calamity, Tereariʻi, a grassroots attorney, already knew that the fight for Maui’s future was about to intensify, and at its heart would not be fire, but another element entirely: water… As the flames approached, Tereariʻi feared that, under cover of emergency, those large players might finally get their chance to grab west Maui’s water…