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A Deep Connection

THOMAS DIMOPOULOS | Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 12:00 am

A Deep Connection

NORTHUMBERLAND - Bill Getz stood on the 48-acre island atop the Hudson River, gripping a Y-shaped branch that was cut from an apple tree.

His mission was to locate a source of underground water where a well can be dug that will provide water for the Hudson Crossing Park.

After a few moments of meditation, Getz felt the forked twig urge him forward along a snowy path by the park's play garden and picnic pavilion, where he eventually came to a stop.

"It's some sort of connection to a higher consciousness," Getz said. He marked the site with brightly colored flags, pocketed the twig and produced a pair of small brass L-shaped rods that he said provided better precision.

"Is this a potable water site?" he asked, as the rods slowly began moving toward one another.

Getz then began to count off in groups of 10: "30, 40, 50 … 67 to 68 feet down," he said, finally. "You should drill down about 120 feet to give yourself a good reserve."

Getz has been able to locate water at 700 sites where wells have been drilled through a practice called dowsing. The procedure involves the use of a stick or a rod and has been used since ancient times to locate water.

The dowsing service costs in the $200 to $300 range depending on the travel time, Getz said, although he was donating his time on Tuesday to the Hudson Crossing Park, a nonprofit-run park that sits between the Champlain Canal's Lock 5 and the Hudson River, at the border of Saratoga and Washington counties.

Getz said he first came upon the practice of dowsing in 1947 as a 4-year-old boy when he was fascinated by a dowser who was locating a water source for his father's restaurant.

Some say dowsing is an undefinable practice that uses electro-magnetic fields. Others claim it is superstition.

"What actually makes the stick turn down? I don't know. That's one of the mysteries," said Getz, who is a member of the Mohawk-Hudson Dowsers, a group of about 60 dowsers who hold local meetings once a month.

Others are less convinced the practice actually works.

"Dowsing has no scientific basis," said John Williams, a ground water specialist at the U.S. Geological Survey New York Water Science Center in Troy.

"Most places in the Northeast where you drill you are going to hit some water," said Williams, explaining the difficulty of proving that dowsing works.

"I would put it in the same class as a Ouija board," he said. "There's no scientific basis that if you use a dowser you're going to be any more successful than not - except you wonder if someone has been around wells for a long time and is picking up subtle signs of the topography," Williams said.

For those that may not identify dowsing as an officially sanctioned practice, however, there is an opposing view that dowsers can claim as a source of their convictions.

"I know very well that many scientists consider dowsing as they do astrology, as a type of ancient superstition," wrote Albert Einstein in 1946. "According to my conviction this is, however, unjustified. The dowsing rod is a simple instrument which shows the reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors which are unknown to us at this time,"

Of the 700 sites where Getz has identified a water source, he said he has found good water with all of them, and has had to follow up only about a dozen times to make sure everything was in proper order.

"You want to do the job right the first time," he said.

Finding water in all the right places

Finding Water Bill Getz

Post-Star reporter Thomas Dirnopolous, left, gets some
'hands-on' experience finding water with dowser Bill Getz at
the Hudson Crossing Park in Northumberland on Tuesday.

0ne of the best parts of being journalist is meeting new people and being exposed to
talents, lifestyles and careers you would never otherwise run into. I had heard of dowsers
before Tuesday, but never seen one at work.

On Tuesday, Tom and I were able co watch professional dowser Bill Getz find potential well site at the Hudson Crossing Park near Lock 5 of the Champlain Canal. Getz was more than willing no share his story and talents, though he, like many other dowsers, couldn't’t offer the source of the energy or direction he receive while seeking water.

I can buy into the general idea of finding water with a tree branch and/or brass rods. It makes sense that there may be some electromagnetic fields that a person can be especially tuned into. I have friends that have uncanny abilities to anticipate occurrences in their live and other peoples' lives. So, I'm pretty sure there's something to it.

However, when Bill figured the top and bottom depth of the well, the rate of flow and the direction of flow of the vein, I began to question how so much detail could come from brass divining rods and a 'connection' with the water.

Getz has a substantial track record, so I'm not a naysayer, but it will be interesting to go back to Hudson Crossing Park this spring and see where the well ended up.

Whether they find water at 67-feet deep and 6-7 gallons-per-minute or not, meeting Bill and leaning about dowsing was the highlight of my week so far.

Photos courtesy of Frank Hoenig and Lorna Reichel

Bill Getz, Professional Water Dowser
239 Webster Road, Schoharie NY 12157
(518) 522-9149 cell Email: