Ten of the twelve water companies operating in the UK have recently admitted to using the medieval practice of water dowsing to locate pipes or underground water sources, despite the lack of any scientific evidence proving its effectiveness. Numerous studies have, in fact, discredited dowsing as pseudoscience after multiple experiments failed to demonstrate its eficacy. The disclosure that the firms are still using the practice, and passing the cost on to their customers, has prompted calls for The Water Services Regulation Authority, or Ofwat, to intervene.
Dowsers claim that their divining rods, two bent pieces of metal – typically copper or silver – cross over each other to make an X when they detect the presence of water below ground. Despite the claim being long discredited, some water companies insist that the practice is as effective as modern methods, such as drones or satellites.