What is a Zanjero?
A Zanjero was a water cowboy. They started out in the South-Western United States in the days of the Wild West. For the people that settled in these dry areas of America, water was an important part of their daily life.
But it was in short supply. It was the job of the Zanjero to protect the water, to make sure it was shared out fairly and that it wasn’t wasted. The limited amount of water meant that arguments were common and often turned violent. It was up to the Zanjero to settle these rows. The Zanjero was a powerful and important person in the community. The work they did in protecting the water helped the settlers tame the Wild West.
There are still Zanjeros today, mainly in Arizona and California, but now they have mobile phones and computer equipped trucks instead of a trusty horse and shovel. Zanjeros are responsible for billions of litres of water a year and thousands of hectares of farmland.
They have the job to try to make sure that the right amount of water is reaching the right areas at the right time. If the water is not properly controlled, it is wasted and crops could be damaged. Zanjeros value and respect the water. They control the most valuable resource for the community.
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