November 25, 2014
ST. HELENA, Calif. (AP) - With California in the grips of drought, farmers throughout the state are using a mysterious and some say foolhardy tool for locating underground water: dowsers, or water witches.
Practitioners of dowsing use rudimentary tools - usually copper sticks or wooden "divining rods" that resemble large wishbones - and what they describe as a natural energy to find water hidden underground.
While government water scientists disapprove, California "witchers" are busy as farmers seek to drill more groundwater wells due to the state's record drought.
The nation's fourth largest wine maker says it uses dowsers on its 40,000 acres of California vineyards, and dozens of smaller farmers and homeowners also pay for dowsers.
Nationwide, the American Society of Dowsers, Inc. boasts dozens of local chapters, which meet annually at a conference.
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