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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Why I believe in dowsers


By Robin McDermott

Shortly after my husband Ray and I moved to the Mad River Valley from Connecticut, it became clear that we would need to drill a new well.  Despite suggestions for placement from our plumber, the engineer, and the well-drillers, we decided that it wouldn't hurt to have a dowser provide some guidance as well. This is something we never would have thought about when we lived in Connecticut, but when in Vermont.... Ray's cousin, Rob Mermin of Circus Smirkus fame, is a dowser, but he felt he was a little rusty for the job.

Friends recommended Dorothy Tod who we did not know at the time. We called Dorothy and she came out the next day. If I didn't know better I would have thought that the dowsing rod she used was a broken transistor antennae, but she assured us it was a portable telescoping dowsing rod. It spun wildly clockwise and then quickly changed directly going counterclockwise as Dorothy asked questions and it responded with a yes or no. I have to admit we were skeptical at first, so we were pretty surprised when the rod kept directing Dorothy up the hill to the existing well.  
After about a half hour Dorothy reported that she was not able to find water that met our desired criteria of 10 gallons per minute, potable, and a year-round source, so she suggested we look for just five gallons per minute, potable, and a year-round source. We agreed and the rod started spinning again. Throughout the process Dorothy explained what she was doing, but when she seemed to be onto something she became very quiet moving back and forth over a particular spot several times. Finally she said that she had found the spot and that Ray was to put a stake in the ground EXACTLY where her foot was pointing. Dorothy told us that we would find water at 163 feet and that it would provide five gallons per minute. Dorothy would not accept any payment from us and instead asked us to make a donation to Friends of the Mad River in her name.  
Unfortunately, the location that Dorothy found was not ideal as far as the plumber, the engineer, and the well-drillers were concerned and its location would mean additional costly excavation as well. That's when we decided we would get a second opinion and asked Rob to check Dorothy's work. We buried the stake marking the spot that Dorothy found and Rob started his work in much the same way as Dorothy, asking questions and getting a yes or no response from the dowsing rods. (It turns out that Dorothy had taken a dowsing class from Rob some years back at the International Dowsers Convention.)  

Unlike Dorothy, Rob used two rods, one in each hand, that would point inward to indicate a yes and outward to indicate a no. We were shocked when Rob ended up at the exact same spot as Dorothy -- I mean exact. He explained that there was a six-inch stream flowing at 138 feet and that is why it was critical that the well company drill exactly on the spot. Five inches either way could miss the stream all together. With the only difference between Dorothy and Rob's recommendation being the distance we would find the water (Dorothy 163 feet and Rob 138 feet), we were not about to mess with their recommendation and that is where the well would be drilled.  

A few weeks later the well was drilled. Late in the morning we had a knock on our door. They had hit water at 165 feet -- five gallons a minute.  I called Dorothy immediately and thanked her for the great work she did -- she was off by only two feet! While I hope that we never will have to drill another well again, but if we do, I would not consider doing it without a dowser telling us where the water will be.

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