Technology Changes Everything

Technology Changes Everything

Fast forward 60 years to the 1940's and rural electrification. In 1949, a Colorado wheat farmer invented central pivot irrigation.

Suddenly it was easy to pump huge amounts of groundwater and use it to irrigate fields. In the 1950's and '60s thousands of wells were drilled along the South Platte, and pumping approached 75 billion gallons a year.

Wells rapidly pumped groundwater out of the South Platte aquifer. Surface-water users cried foul as their rivers and ditches shriveled.

Right: Central pivot irrigation equipment.

Far right: Central pivot irrigation in Kansas. Image courtesy of NASA

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