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DLNR names interim water deputy following Maui fires

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The state has assigned Dean Uyeno as the interim water deputy for the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Uyeno, a 25-year-long staffer with the Commission on Water Resource Management, has been assigned on a temporary basis, according to DLNR, which last week reassigned former water deputy Kaleo Manuel.

In a brief statement, DLNR officials said Manuel was being reassigned so that the commission and the department can “focus on the necessary work to assist the people of Maui recover from the devastation of wildfires.”

Manuel was at the helm when questions were brought up about delays to a request by West Maui Land Co. to divert water from Maui streams to reservoirs to help firefighters during the Aug. 8 wildfires that quickly ravaged Lahaina.

Upon announcing the reassignment, DLNR said, “This deployment does not suggest that First Deputy Manuel did anything wrong. DLNR encourages the media and the public to avoid making judgments until all the facts are known.”

Uyeno began his CWRM career in the planning branch and now serves as hydrologic program manager for the stream protection and management branch.

“Dean is uniquely qualified to lead CWRM at this time and he is highly respected by staff and stakeholders,” said DLNR Chair Dawn Chang in a statement. “I’ve appreciated Dean’s willingness to serve in this capacity to ensure that CWRM continues to oversee the management of the State’s public trust water resources. “

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