Meet the Water Witches of California

by Msnbctv news staff


Good morning.

I first heard in regards to the occult observe of water divining in Australia.

There, very similar to in California, warmth, drought and wildfires ravage the panorama. Within the nation’s most up-to-date drought, farmers contended with shrinking aquifers and drying-up rivers, whereas cities got here near working out of water. The impacts of local weather change wreaked havoc on the setting, threatening Australia’s very lifestyle.

These similarities had been clear after I arrived in America final month, solely to be met with a blistering warmth wave throughout the Western United States that melted roads and obliterated earlier warmth data. In Sonoma County, the area the place I stay, farmers’ faucets are being switched off, and vintners are digging ever deeper for water.

The scenario is determined. And I puzzled: Who would possibly profit from that desperation?

“I don’t wish to say enterprise is booming, or enterprise is nice, however enterprise may be very, very, very busy,” Augie Guardino, a second-generation well-driller primarily based in Santa Clara County informed me. “When enterprise is nice for us, it’s not good for the remainder of the group.”

He’s “much like a mortician,” he stated.

Likewise, Rob Thompson stated he was swamped.

“That is my busiest I feel I’ve ever been in my life,” he stated. Thompson 53, is a water diviner, or a water witch: He says he can find groundwater within the fractures of the earth’s bedrock, utilizing simply two rods and a hunch.

The strategy is believed to have come into vogue within the Center Ages in Europe, and is “completely with out scientific advantage,” in keeping with the Nationwide Floor Water Affiliation, a bunch of specialists, together with hydrogeologists, that promotes accountable water use.

However that has not stopped farmers and land managers from hiring Thompson, a second-generation water diviner primarily based in Santa Rosa, who previously co-owned one in all Northern California’s largest well-drilling firms and claims to have discovered hundreds of groundwater websites throughout the state.

“That is the worst drought I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Thompson stated. “In California, we’re going deeper and deeper,” he stated of the wells folks had been drilling to entry water.

Only a two-hour drive from the nation’s expertise capital of Silicon Valley, some vineyards proceed to lean on Thompson’s work.

“I haven’t ever used a geologist to seek out water,” stated Johnnie White, the operations supervisor of Piña Winery Administration, which runs dozens of vineyards in Napa Valley. Nonetheless, White acknowledged, “I discover all of it very far-fetched.”

Final week, I spent the day with Thompson at a kind of vineyards, which was burned in final 12 months’s wildfires, and is flanked by scorched hills and charcoal timber. Now, the winery’s wells are going dry.

“It’s a catastrophe,” stated Davie Piña, the proprietor of the winery administration firm, as he stood on the cracking earth. “Simply what we want,” he added, “after one other catastrophe.”

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