British Water Companies Are Searching For Leaks With Divining Rods And I'm So Angry I Could Cry

Imagine if someone came to your house to fix your pipes, then stumbled around your yard blindly with a pair of sticks. Now imagine if you called the company they worked for and their rep said, "Yep, sometimes that's how we look for pipes."

This is what they are doing (Image: National Library of Wales/Wikimedia Commons)

The Guardian reports that 10 of 12 United Kingdom water companies admit to using water dowsing rods to find leaks and pipes. Some angered folks are calling for regulatory oversight and penalties for practising companies. I am calling for a giant meteor, since that might be a more cost-effective way to locate underground pipes.

If you don't know what dowsing is, you're in for a real treat: It's the act of using witchcraft to locate something with sticks. When you're in the right spot, magic makes the sticks cross or wobble. It is a game of pretend.

I have tried to use dowsing rods. They crossed. Because I moved them. With my hands.

The discovery was the Twitter work of science blogger and University of Oxford PhD student Sally Le Page, whose parents observed a Severn Trent employee using a pair of "tent pegs" as if they were divining rods, reports The Guardian. I wouldn't call Severn Trent's response to her tweet an admission - "admitting" implies that you know you've done something wrong.

Other companies excitedly owned up to it, too.

Only one company, Wessex Water, said they didn't, while a Northern Irish company didn't respond to Le Page's questioning.

This has to be a joke. It can't not be a joke.

The UK Water Services Regulation Authority told The Guardian that it's the job of these companies to work cost effectively, and doing otherwise could earn them a financial penalty. They did not call for a ban of using pairs of sticks to locate pipes.

How would you feel if your electrician tried to fix your wires with a crystal ball? How would you feel if a valet parker used a pendulum to find your car? How would you feel if your doctor tried to locate a tumour in your body with a Ouija board? How would you feel if they handed you a bill for these services?

I am not calling an expert to explain how holding a pair of sticks, then crossing them when you feel like it, is an ineffective way to find water.

It isn't like other countries are any better. In the United States, people try to heal their energy with stickers, put butter in their coffee to lose weight, and act like arseholes because, uh, stars and planets.

But wow. Just, ugh. Wow. Mnfgh.

[via The Guardian]