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DousingStickIn a recent post I told the saga about having to move our water meter out of our neighbors house.  In the course of that I mentioned how an employee from the city’s water department used a dousing rod to quickly find the water main on the adjacent street.   Fascinated, I then did an Internet search to find out about dousing rods.  Up till then I assumed it was all voodoo and magic but watching the worker use one, it just looked like a straightforward and useful tool of the trade.   My Internet search didn’t turn up anything that would make me believe that dousing rods were anything more than hocus-pocus, yet in the hand of that worker it sure seemed to work.

The city crew came out last week, dug up our street and for the first time ever we now have a water line running up my street and into our house.  In the course of that work, the dousing rod story got much more interesting.

The plan was to connect to the main on Winter Street and run a line from there up Spring St to our house.  Up until now, Spring St has never had a water line.  The crew arrived and before they started working one guy started walking methodically back and forth with a dousing rod across the bottom of Spring Street where they planned on running the new line.  Every time he got to a certain point the rod would spin 90 degrees.  He worked his way about 30 or 40 feet up the Spring Street and the rod stopped spinning and he looked a little confused.  He then called over one of his co-workers, who was the guy that first introduced the Newton Water Dept to using a dousing rod, so he is the resident expert.   He told him that there appeared to be a pipe running about 40 feet up our street that just dead ended.  The dousing rod expert then repeated the whole process again and agreed that there indeed did appear to be a pipe that stopped before it got to my property.  According to the city map, there should be no water pipes on Spring St

At this point, I asked if I could have a go at the dousing rod.  I walked back and forth on the same path but the rod in my hands didn’t even twitch when I crossed where this pipe supposedly was.

The crew showed up the next day and began digging up Spring Street.  Sure enough, there was an old water pipe that ran about 40 feet up Spring St and dead ended.  They connected a new line to the end of  that pipe and ran it up to my house.

So now I’m completely confused, fascinated and befuddled by the dousing rods.  Here’s a few thoughts and questions I have.

* In the hands of the water department crew, the dousing rod quickly and easily found a pipe that no one knew was there and wasn’t on city maps.  Two different employees got the same results when using the tool.  If the tool works and is so effective why does an Internet search not turn up anything that would clearly confirm that dousing rods are a known effective tool?

* Why in my hands didn’t the rod work?   I guess I don’t have “the touch”

* The first time I saw the dousing rod in use, the city employee said that the rod responded to flowing water.  When they found the dead end pipe, there clearly was no flowing water inside it.

* Most of the Internet references to the sort of dousing rods these guys were using described a completely different process.  The city workers held a single rod in their hand that turned 90 degrees when you crossed the pipe.   The Internet references showed people holding a pair of rods, one in each hand, and the two rods turn inward and cross over when you pass over water.

So I don’t pretend to have any answers about any of this, just a good story that doesn’t make any sense to me.