Water Watch

Jun 17, 2014 1:37 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY

California drought: Turning to ancient art of water witching

The California drought has many people conserving water when possible, but some are practicing an ancient technique of finding ground water called water witching.

"We have a good spot to drill, so I'm going to see if we can find something right here," said Gary Silveira.

Years ago Silveira's Godfather taught him this technique, and now this Cambria farmer calls himself a water witcher.

"Between wells and springs, I've probably done 700 or 800 of them," he explained.

It's a practice Silveira said was popular in the 1700s and can be described as a silent, but effective way to find water deep in the ground without the use of a scientific apparatus.

"With this stick here, each time it bobs there's a pulse to it, a cadence or a rhythm. Different cadences will tell me how much water will be here," he said. "130, 150, 180..."

The numbers are the depth of the water deep underground. Silveira said he also uses a pendulum to find the direction of the water flow through a magnetic force called strata.

Of course anytime we hear witch, there is some skepticism.

"Thirty percent of the time I'm wrong," Silveira said.

Each time he's wrong it costs about $5,000, which is the price to drill down for the water.

Not everybody can be a watcher witcher. Silveira said out of the 500 people he's taught the technique, only five were successful.

So what is the key to water witching? "Confidence...You have to be a believer," explained Silveira.

However, how the age-old technique works remains unknown. "I've researched the heck out of it trying to figure out what it is, it's energy," said Silveira.

The average price for a water witcher to test a property is $200.

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