Well drillers still doing the water witching thing

Bucking skepticism, well drillers offer water witching during drought – The Washington Post.

Well driller Randy Gebke usually uses a geology database and other high-tech tools to figure out where to sink new water wells for clients. But if asked, he’ll grab two wires, walk across the property, waiting for the wires to cross to find a place to drill.

Gebke is water witching, using an ancient method with a greater connection to superstition than science.

Cherry is a common choice, Gebke said, but no one chooses willow.

“That pulls toward dog squat,” he said, laughing at the thought of looking for water and finding a pile of something unwanted instead.

The National Groundwater Association, a trade group for well drillers, has officially disavowed witching as “totally without scientific merit.”

“I’m not going to dispute it because you hear too many stories,” said Mark Basch, a hydrologist who heads water rights and use operations at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. But, he said, there’s no scientific explanation for it, “not in any of the books I read in school.”

Source: Washington Post

Not only is without explanation, there is no plausibility ever discovered for it and testing it shows it DOESN’T work. Even Agricola, in his famous work De Re Metallica, knew dowsing was pointless. It’s a superstition. So, the NGA is pretty much on the nose here. Note that the guy still uses geologic maps and scientific tools. So, the rods are pretty much superfluous. In almost all cases, water will be found in an aquifer at depth. The most common solution is to deepen your well to reach a lower level of water or create more storage space in the well. So, water witching may appear to work but, really, drilling almost anywhere will get you to water.


  4 comments for “Well drillers still doing the water witching thing

  1. suedenim
    August 30, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Reading between the lines, I wonder if it’s more a marketing strategy than anything else:

    “*But if asked*, he’ll grab two wires, walk across the property, waiting for the wires to cross to find a place to drill.”

    It might just translate to “OK, guys, when you’re in the field, if the customer really wants it, just wave these sticks around for a while and have them point to the spot we’ve already identified with scientific methods.”

  2. Kiljoy616
    August 30, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    I like your thinking, good PR and Marketing. Sure why not some people are just prone to needing superstition to function.

  3. August 30, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    I am often upset watching various home improvment network television shows (don’t judge me) how often a dowser is brought in to find where to dig a well. They dig. They hit water. The dowser is praised. I get indignant in my livingroom.

  4. Old Muley
    August 30, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    Last summer we had to have some utility lines moved in our back yard. The technician from the local phone company came out and at first used a standard electronic detector to locate all the buried phone lines. Once he finished he noticed an exterior junction box that lead to a buried line between the house and the garage. He then proceeded to pull out two divining rods and demonstrate how he could use them to locate buried power lines. The guy even said I could do it myself to find buried utilities in the yard. I suggested he contact the JREF and apply for the million dollar challenge.

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