Water Dowsing Facts in Kent.

Thinking of having your own water well? If the answer is yes, you may suddenly think you need a water dowser to locate the best position. Before you go down this route let us just explain a little bit about the geology and hydrology of Kent and why it is not necessary use the services of a water dowser to pinpoint  a position on a proposed borehole/water well position.
A lot of Kent is situated on Chalk which is a major aquifer. Chalk is impermeable, however it is well fissured, the fissure sizes tend to diminish with depth. Rainwater permeates through the ground and finds its way into the fissures, gravity then pulls the water downwards until it finds the end of the network of fissures and can travel no further. As more water drains into the soil the fissures continue to fill and the water level will rise, this level of the water is known as the water table, or rest water level. Now you need to visualise that the fissures inter-connect so that if you drill a borehole in one position, and then drill another borehole 100 metres away, the level to the water will be exactly the same, as water always finds its own level. The only time this depth will differ is if the two boreholes are in different aquifers, meaning that there is an impermeable layer or lack of fissures interconnecting. (very unlikely over a short distance such as 100 metres).
A water dowser will wander around waving whatever stick, rod, crystal or other implement he has decided to use, and then stick a number of flags in the ground and declare that he has found a source of "sweet" water and you should drill at this position. Dependant on the water dowsers abilities he will also predict the depth, quality and flow rate of water from the borehole. He will at no point consider the distance to a power supply to operate the pump, or the fact that it is in an area a long way from the infrastrucure you want to connect to, or any issues of access to the borehole position. He will also declare that if you don't do the borehole in the exact position he has marked out he will not be held responsible.
The price of this information usually varies from about £150 upwards, it would be great if it always worked, but it doesn't.
The only reputable water dowsers generally have a background knowledge or better in geology and use a combination of their findings for their predictions. My personal belief is that they use data from geological and hydrogeological maps, together with data from existing well records and boreholes prior to their site visit, and they already know the answers before they arrive. They then go through the dowsing routine before declaring they have found water.
Another major aquifer found in Kent is the Folkestone Sands, these are present in much of Kent. The Folkestone Sands sit on an impermeable layer called the Sandgate Beds. Again rainwater permeates through the ground and into the sands. You then have an underground lake full of sand and water. It doesn't matter where you drill in these sands as the water is all connected, no accuracy of position is required at all.
The following article is an extract from Wikipedia.

Betz Controversy

In a study in Munich 1987–1988 by Hans-Dieter Betz and other scientists, 500 dowsers were initially tested for their "skill" and the experimenters selected the best 43 among them for further tests. Water was pumped through a pipe on the ground floor of a two-storey barn. Before each test the pipe was moved in a direction perpendicular to the water flow. On the upper floor each dowser was asked to determine the position of the pipe. Over two years the dowsers performed 843 such tests. Of the 43 pre-selected and extensively tested candidates at least 37 showed no dowsing ability. The results from the remaining 6 were said to be better than chance, resulting in the experimenters' conclusion that some dowsers "in particular tasks, showed an extraordinarily high rate of success, which can scarcely if at all be explained as due to chance ... a real core of dowser-phenomena can be regarded as empirically proven."[24]

Five years after the Munich study was published, Jim T. Enright, a professor of physiology who emphasised correct data analysis procedure, contended that the study's results are merely consistent with statistical fluctuations and not significant. He believed the experiments provided "the most convincing disproof imaginable that dowsers can do what they claim,"[25] stating that the data analysis was "special, unconventional and customized." Replacing it with "more ordinary analyses,"[26] he noted that the best dowser was on average 4 millimeters out of 10 meters closer to a mid-line guess, an advantage of 0.0004%, and that the five other "good" dowsers were on average farther than a mid-line guess. He further pointed out that the six "good" dowsers did not perform any better than chance in separate tests. [27]


Challenge set on 24th October 2012.

I expect that some water dowsers will read this and be annoyed.
Don't be annoyed, prove what you can do!
Let's have a field trip, I will take you on a magical mystery tour of Kent to five locations. You do your predictions and we will publish the results. Lets say a minimum of 4 dowsers. Your predictions will be compared to actual results from private water wells in the same location.
The locations will not be given prior to the site visits, to make sure that no information can be gathered prior to their predictions.
Contact us if you want to be part of the challenge.

Update: 28th February 2014>  One water dowser has contacted us, but was not prepared to take the challenge.
Update: 13th September 2016> Still no comment from any other dowsers.

Update: 12th February 2019> Still no comment from any dowsers.