HAMILTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — It's not too far away from metal detecting for gold, but these days, North Shore farmers and homeowners are using dowsing rods to find an even more valuable resource: water.
Amid a mostly statewide critical-level drought, water diviner Peter Britton has taken it upon himself to aid the agriculture industry with an archaic technology that still seems to be producing results. Dowsing rods are used to detect water flowing underground, and typically come in the form of two wishbone or L-shaped metal sets, in either copper, brass, or even wood.
The tip of the device is said to dip when a water source is nearby below. Britton tells WBZ's Kendall Buhl though there's not a lot of science backing the practice, some good old-fashioned intuition is striking liquid gold so to speak.
"There's a certain kind of sensitivity that certain people have with the presence of flowing water underground," Britton said. A farmer in Hamilton says Britton was able to find five productive wells for her, an effort that stems from cooperation between multiple water diviners. Their findings were corroborated from a physicist and geo-physicist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"In all of them he [Britton] has found a better spot than other folks and we found water. He has a really solid track record," the Hamilton farmer said.
"Dowsing is part of tradition. Here we applied this 'peasant lore' for finding the spot, and science confirmed that the 'witchcraft' was right on the target," Britton said.
To top it off, Britton says he doesn't charge for his dowsing services, and that finding water for farmers and residents is reward enough.
"I just don't accept money for this, just the importance of locating the water— that's the chief thing that you're there for," Britton said.
According to the Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force, the Northeast Region is experiencing a critical-level drought as of early August, with Cape and Islands facing lower degrees of droughts.
WBZ's Kendall Buhl (@WBZKendallBuhl) reports.