UK water companies still using diving rods to find leaks

23 November 2017

Almost all of the UK's water companies have admitted their engineers use dowsing rods to detect leaks or find pipes, even though there is no scientific evidence for their efficacy.

Of the dozen companies 10 said they occasionally use divining rods, a form of magic dating back hundreds of years which, in reality, relies on the same unconscious muscle reflexes.

A dowsing practitioner uses two small rods or a single larger, forked one, which is said to lead them to water sources.

The use by employees of leading companies in the 21st century shocked scientist Sally Le Page.

She documented the responses of all 12 companies, in a Medium post after she asked whether they used the same techniques.

''Just because the rods move doesn't mean they are moving in response to water underground. The rods move when the person subconsciously moves their hands.

''Every properly conducted scientific test of water dowsing has found it no better than chance,'' she said.

Wessex Water and Northern Ireland Water in Twitter replies, said they did not use dowsing or divination rods to diagnose leaks or find pipes.

While 10 others said they did, they all later tried to clarify their positions.

Anglian Water replied on Twitter: ''Divination isn't used but there have been occasions where we've used dowsing rods. But mainly we use our listening sticks (a device that allows us to hear the water underground).''

''It's an old technique used by those who are experienced,'' said Stuart White, chief spokesman for Thames Water, The Telegraph reported. ''We do not train or instruct our engineers to use divining rods. They might use them to help find a pipe, but it would then be confirmed using other modern techniques,'' he added.

Last year, United Utilities uploaded a video to YouTube, which showed one of its inspectors in the North Cheshire area monitoring the energy flows in a customer's garden to help find the water mains. The caption read ''you don't need special powers'' to master the technique and urged viewers to ''try it yourself with a couple of bent coat hangers.''

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