Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Water witches?

Via the New York Times, this weird article: 
Maybe I can get this guy to look for that lost yield
Credit: New York Times

CALISTOGA, Calif. — In a vineyard flanked by scorched hills and charcoal trees, Rob Thompson gripped two stainless steel rods, began rotating in a circle and counted under his breath.

Then he said he had found it — water, hundreds of feet beneath the parched ground.

“This is really good,” said Mr. Thompson, 53, scratching an ‘X’ into the ashen soil with his shoe. “This is a deep one: 750 feet, 55 to 60 gallons a minute.” He added, “This one I can feel.”

Mr. Thompson is a water witch.

He claims that he can locate streams of water in the fractures in the earth’s bedrock, using two L-shaped rods that together resemble an old-fashioned television antenna. Amid California’s extreme drought, just a two-hour drive north of the nation’s technology capital of Silicon Valley, the water-seeking services of a man relying on two three-foot rods and a hunch are in demand.

It's remarkable to me that people trust in these folks, but I guess there's no messing with tradition and gut instinct, and it sounds like water witches are a lot cheaper than a water geologist. Still seems like a bit of a waste of money. 

(You wonder if people would ever label themselves "chemical witches" and go wandering around laboratories with their steel rods, finding catalyst inhibitors, hard-to-identify impurities and missing yield?)


  1. I grew up on a dairy farm and we also used these to locate buried irrigation piping and other piping. They're called Dowsing Rods and we typically used coat hangars but there are specific products for such uses, but you can also apparently use sticks. It worked in our uses most of the time (if not all the time) we used them, but never went searching for buried springs or anything like that.

  2. Wikipedia has a pretty good debunking of water witching.


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