By John Keast
Leave the water in the rivers, says Peter Donald – there’s plenty underground.
Mr Donald is a water diviner.
He worked with his late brother Jack in mapping the South Island’s hidden resource.
Twenty years ago, the brothers drove around the district – one perched on the front of a four-wheel drive, divining rods in hand.
They spent four months on the road, “mapping” the water underground.
Now, at 83, Mr Donald wants to tell those in authority that no water needs to be taken out of the rivers – there are vast resources beneath the country’s soil.
As evidence, Mr Donald, of Methven, says he had divined 2500 wells and has a house full of maps, all marked with black spots – underground water – and squares – vast underground aquifers.
His map of Christchurch city has four or five squares.
“All I want people to know is that there is an option there for underground water and if they don’t take it, then it’s not my fault. All I can do is tell you.”
Mr Donald said he realised his talent in his 20s when he was mole-ploughing in cables for the Post Office.
Officials wanted to know if there were cables already in the ground, and Mr Donald said he was able to find them.
“I still do a bit,” Mr Donald said.
“We said all this 20 years ago. I feel frustrated and annoyed. Taking water out of rivers is going against Mother Nature.”
He said he had approached council officials in Selwyn and Christchurch to tell them that sewage was leaking into lakes Forsyth and Ellesmere, but they appeared to take little interest.
He said he showed them where the leaks were – at Halswell, Lincoln, Burnham and Leeston “but he didn’t seem to believe me”.
Mr Donald said he taught himself to find water and believes plenty of other people can do it too if trained.
“When I got to 80 I wanted to tell everyone what was beneath the ground. Well, now I’m 83 and I’m telling them.”
Where once he roamed the district with divining rods, Mr Donald, a former farmer and contractor, uses maps, a crystal and a half-moon gauge to which his swinging crystal points.
He says he can find water, its depth, its volume and its purity.
In 1999, he and Jack decided to map Mid Canterbury, starting at the Rakaia Gorge.
“The first day we walked to Pudding Hill corner. The next three days we were getting over it. We found we were too tired, so we put a seat on front of the truck. Much better,” Mr Donald said.
He said plenty of money had been wasted by councils and others in seeking water.
Mr Donald said some of his maps were so accurate, “we could drill on them”.
He said there was plenty of water in Africa, across the United States, even in the dry states.
And there were vast supplies in Canterbury.
“Even if we got 10 per cent of it, that’d be all we’d need.”
On the lake pollution, Mr Donald said he went to the council and said give us a drainlayer and a digger and we’ll find the problem, but they said “no, it’s against protocol”.
Mr Donald said many people rejected his ideas because he was not a scientist, but he had found plenty of good bores.