In four decades following the Dust Bowl days of the 1930's, extensive areas of dry farming and rangeland on the semi-arid U.S. High Plains were transformed into a vast region of irrigated oases, producing meat and grain for much of the world. The agricultural economy has experienced such rapid growth in part because of the availability of ground water and because of development of new irrigation technology to use that water for agriculture. However, more water is being used than is being replaced. To estimate both the volume of water withdrawn and the regional scope of the problem a technique has been developed that combines multispectral data from Earth-orbiting satellite with known pumpage data for the same growing season. The location and extent of irrigated cropland-some with different crops watered at different times-is inventoried using computer-assisted analysis of the data from Landsat. The amount of water used is estimated by multiplying and summing surface area of irrigated agriculture and the average measured pumpage from sampled sites. Published findings to date are cited in the Selected References. All suggest transferability of a promising technology to the study of land transformation processes elsewhere. ?? 1983.