Private Eye - Jersey

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Private Eye - Jersey

Postby blackthorn » Fri Jul 21, 2006 8:08 am

I see that in this week's Private Eye there was an article about the water shortage in Jersey, and the fact that the authorities have done nothing about it because a dowser assured them there was not a problem!
Anyone know any more about this?
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Postby Grahame Gardner » Wed Aug 23, 2006 9:19 pm

I feel it's worth reporting a bit more on this as the ever-amazing Randi has made his views very clear on the story ... this first extract is from James Randi's website and quotes the Eye article:

This year’s drought has brought the threat of serious water shortages on the island of Jersey much closer.
In response to the crisis, Jersey’s environment minister, Senator Freddie Cohen, has drafted legislation to restrict the extraction of groundwater and introduce metering of domestic supplies. Alas Senator Cohen’s law has been vetoed by his colleagues in the States (parliament) because they have chosen to believe the word of a water diviner rather than that of geologists.

In the 1980s the States commissioned the British Geological Survey [BGS], at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds, to carry out an exhaustive study of the island’s water resources. Much of the island’s groundwater, it found, is polluted with nitrates and pesticides. The local geology (predominantly granite and shale) means that water is very scarce more than a few meters below the surface. Alarm was calmed, however, by local diviner George Langlois. Armed only with a forked twig, he proclaimed that Jersey did not have a water crisis at all. The island’s water, he insisted, originates from France. It is, er, pulled by the moons gravity via wide streams which run beneath the English Channel.

To use the technical argot, that is what geologists call “complete and utter bollocks.” However, senators chose to believe the soothing assurances of the man with the twitching stick – and they did nothing.

Meanwhile groundwater levels continued to fall. In some low-lying areas it is tainted by seawater, a sure sign of over-extraction. This year’s drought concentrated a few minds and led to Senator Cohen’ proposed water restrictions.

Re-enter Langlois who, fresh from announcing the presence of large oil reserves under the island – another geological impossibility – again assured the States that Jersey’s water supplies were inexhaustible. It takes just a day for water to travel from France to Jersey, he said. The BGS on the other hand estimates that the water currently being consumed with merry abandon arrived in the form of rainfall 57,000 years ago. So many States members believe the water diviner’s mumbo-jumbo, that Senator Cohen has had to withdraw his law. To break the impasse he has proposed setting up a test at the taxpayer’s expense. Langlois will use his divining “powers” to pinpoint the location of two of the “underground streams from France.” The States will then spend thousands of pounds sinking two boreholes. Any water found will be chemically tested to see whether it originates from France or from Jersey.

Senator Cohen hopes the results will finally convince his colleagues of the need for water conservation. Alas, while there may not be much water on Jersey, the wells of ignorance are very deep.


The August Eye letters page has this wonderful rebuttal from a Jersey resident that puts things into perspective...

Diviner inspiration

Sir,

As life-time admirers of your resplendent organ - particularly when mildly aroused - many of us here in Jersey
could not help but smile at the spin you put on the George Langlois Water Diviner story (Rotten Boroughs,
Eye 1163). Our island has been persistently plagued by "experts" being called in from the mainland at huge
expense to ourselves - simply to cover the asses of our rulers and their civil servants - when, time and time
again, the local man has been proved right - at minimal cost. In this case Langlois and his driller De la Hoye
have devoted their careers to finding deep water sources on site in outlying areas, saving farmers the massive
costs of piping in mains water.

At long last we have pushed the Suits into taking up this duo's challenge of finding out whether this deep water,
which has long been shown to exist, actually originates in Normandy - a mere 12 miles away at its closest
point. In the event that it does turn out to be "complete and utter bollocks", it will be hugely dissappointing for
the whole Island population. BUT, if the locals are shown to have been right after all, it will transform the island's
water prospects.

We all feel it is worth spending (relative) peanuts to find out; we should have an answer by the end of August.

Incidentally, thankyou for informing us about our "water crisis": as we had understood it, our current situation
is more more plentiful than it has been for years.

You can't always be expected to get it right!

CHRISTOPHER DAVEY
Via e-mail.


thanks to Ian for picking up on these stories...
Grahame
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The latest installment

Postby Ian Pegler » Fri Dec 01, 2006 9:06 am

The following article appeared in Private Eye No. 1172, 24 Nov-7 Dec 2006.
(Tony Blair and David Frost on the front cover).

Private Eye wrote:BAD NEWS for water diviners. In July Eye 1163 told how the States
(Parliament) of Jersey had postponed enacting water conservation
measures because a water diviner had claimed the island had
unlimited supplies of underground fresh water, flowing beneath
the sea from France. The States commissioned geologists to dig
boreholes at two locations specified by the diviner to test the claims,
at a cost of 70,000 UKP. Now the results are in and -surprise, surprise -
there are no underground streams. The small amount of water extracted
was chemically tested and found to be identical with other sources on
Jersey - i.e. it had fallen as rainwater on the island and was not mystically
transported there from France, Narnia, or anywhere else. Just fancy that.


Both this report and the original appeared in the Rotten Boroughs section, which lampoons Local Government, except you could be forgiven for thinking they were lampooning water-diviners on this occassion. Why is this, you may ask? I'll tell you.

The editor of the Rotten Boroughs section of Private Eye is a character called Tim Minogue and it's quite evident that he doesn't like us at all. To the extent that, having discovered the Interim Report on the web and having written this little piece (must have taken him five minutes at least) reproduced above, he went and told James Randi all about it. :roll:

Did Tim Minogue ask any questions about the science being done? No.

Did he ask questions like "What did they do by way of a control experiment?" No. In fact, I see no mention of any control experiment in the interim report. In fact, doing a control experiment would have involved drilling deep boreholes in France at locations identified by the dowser and clearly this didn't happen.

Did he bother to wait for the final report? No.

The quality of investigative journalism is not strained, is it? :roll:

Perhaps Mr. Minogue should stick to his job, instead of using his position at Private Eye to indulge his extracurricular hobby-horse?

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Drilling on islands in the sea

Postby griff » Wed Dec 06, 2006 7:20 pm

Water well drilling on islands in the sea often presents problems associated with salt water intrusion. Many island sites fed by rainfall on the island itself can be tapping fissure-fed courses and preferential flows due to minor faulting and the characteristics of such sites can only be determined by exploratory drilling after topographical inspection of the area. Most professional diviners are quite capable of such tasks, including obtaining geological records and information at a fraction of the cost of employing 'fat cat' consultants and it would appear that the States parliament members are fully aware of this. Local and National governments are too fond of handing highly expensive establishment consultancy firms the tasks of feasibility studies and engineering reports at the expense of the taxpayers.
Abstraction over-pumping can lower the level in a deep bore to below the level of a submarine spring, reversing the flow and causing salt intrusion. This can sometimes be overcome by the use of probe level controls in the bore in order to maintain a positive pumping level so that only fresh water is delivered to service. This means that residents may be forced to individually collect direct rainfall for non potable purposes.
Valuable local knowledge is often ignored by the 'Experts' and long term residents should be consulted not only as a matter of etiquette but also as a matter of course.
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Questions about the interim report

Postby Ian Pegler » Mon Dec 11, 2006 3:24 pm

Questions have been asked concerning this interim report. You can find the questions and answers by CLICKING HERE.

I suggest that this is well worth reading from start to end, however, in particular read the answer given to question 2(d).

Question 2(d): [Would the Minister advise] why isotopic testing was chosen and whether this method is capable of distinguishing between Jersey underground water and underground water on the adjacent French coast?


to which was given the following reply:

The agreement underpinning the DGAG investigation, signed by all members, relates to the significance of differences in isotopic signatures between surface water and groundwater sampled at the depth. I reproduce this agreement here.

The agreement

Water samples will be obtained from two specially constructed boreholes to be drilled at two locations chosen and divined by the well drillers and diviners as being the most likely to yield water that had its origins in mainland Europe. Exact construction details of the two boreholes will be agreed with technical advisors of BGS and ENTEC, but in essence boreholes will be drilled to whatever depth the drillers and diviners believe is necessary, up to a maximum depth of 750 feet, and fully lined and grouted throughout the depth to avoid cross-contamination with locally sourced water.

The definitive test will compare the isotopic signature of the water sampled from the two test boreholes with that of water from the surface aquifer.

If the joint consultants BGS and ENTEC show that there is a significant difference in the isotopic signature then all parties accept that the sampled water has a different source to that of water from the surface aquifer.

If the joint consultants BGS and ENTEC show that there is not a significant difference in the isotopic signature between the sampled water and water from the surface aquifer then all parties will drop all claims of an underground water connection between Jersey and the European mainland.

A positive test would lead to further work to quantify the useable inflow of water from outside the island.

As has already been made public the initial results show no significant difference between deep and shallow water so the interim conclusion is that the deeper water has its origins on Jersey, not on the European mainland.

Isotope testing is an increasingly used scientific tool for identifying the origin of groundwater. The water molecule consists of H20. The stable isotopes of hydrogen (1H and 2H) and oxygen (16O and 18O) have identical chemical properties but have slightly different physical properties. During rainfall events the heavier 2H and 18O isotopes tend to fall out as rain at a higher rate than the lighter isotopes (16O and 1H). Thus is it possible to make maps of the isotope composition of water and use it to determine the area that groundwater originally fell as rain.

As the isotope signature of groundwater is primarily dependant upon the altitude of the land over which it fell as rain, groundwater derived from Jersey and the immediately adjacent coastal region of France is therefore expected to have similar isotopic values.

[added emphasis mine]

Should the rain have fallen on areas of France with sufficient altitude to drive a flow of water, through rock, under the sea to Jersey, it would have a different and distinguishable isotopic signature.


A couple a points:

First, the fact that Langlois and all the rest signed the agreement to abide by the findings does not imply that they should have done so.

Second, the Minister's reply obviously relies on the opinion of the geologists alone, who are imposing their own notions on what it would take for an underground water supply to come from France.

If Langlois' claim that the water was drawn across by the gravitational influence of the moon could be proven correct then all notions of the rainwater needing to fall at a different altitude etc. go out of the window.

This in turn would imply that isotope testing could not prove anything.

Am I right?

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Moon pumping water?

Postby griff » Tue Dec 12, 2006 6:30 pm

Hi Ian

I agree that your comments generally make sense from a dowser's point of view. Having read the above official report on the Channel Islands project it appears to me that the drilling operations were meticulously planned and recorded and that vadose water was excluded from the bores and was probably mostly prevented from mixing with phreatic waters.

From personal experience of borehole tests on islands and very near the coast here in the South West I have found that freshwater rest levels in some bores rise and fall with the tides, presumably reasonable indication that a network of fissures extending under the sea is associated with higher land-based fissures feeding the bores, therefore, in such circumstances, one could say that the gravitational effect of the moon influences the water supply!.

Regards, Griff.
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Final Report published

Postby Ian Pegler » Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:00 pm

The final report has now been published.

CLICK HERE and scroll down the page to see the links.

Nothing we don't already know.

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Postby griff » Sun Jan 28, 2007 4:06 pm

Hi Ian

An excellent report containing useful and salutary information for diviners and rural engineers contemplating drilling on coastal and island sites.

Regards, griff
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Ou est l'eau francais, monsieur?

Postby Ian Pegler » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:15 am

I find it very interesting that the DGAG had the option of comparing the deep groundwater from Jersey with water from the Petit Suisse region of France but chose not to take that route.

DGAG final report wrote:The initial draft of the agreement stated that ‘the definitive test of the origin of the water samples will be by comparison of the isotopic signature of the sample from the test borehole with that of water in the Petit Suisse region’ After consideration by DGAG, it was felt that this limited the investigation to a specific region and a revised agreement was drawn up and agreed by the DGAG members.


All the isotope data is printed on the last page. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but it appears to have come entirely from locations on Jersey.

If there's someone out there who has isotope data for deep groundwater from France, please put it on the web and post a link on this thread. It would be very interesting to compare it with the data given here.

I feel sure that if someone did this, we would quickly be able to judge the validity of this experiment. If isotopic data from France turned out to be different from the Jersey test bore-holes then the water-from-France theory would be quickly disproven. However, if there was no discernable difference between the French data (which we currently don't have) and the data from the test borehole, then this would invalidate the concusions reached, and indeed, the whole experiment.

If someone did a homeopathy trial with poor controls, the skeptics would very quickly dismiss it. In this instance the geologists have actually omitted to do any proper controls whatsoever. Why, therefore, should we accept the results?

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Now I'm confused

Postby Ian Pegler » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:38 am

I just came across another BBC article on the Jersey situation.

Now I'm confused...

BBC wrote:At the labs the analysts can tell whether the water they have collected is likely to have come from rainfall on Jersey or from the hills of France.

The latter would have less of the rare oxygen-18 isotope

If George is right, this extra, deep water would make stricter regulations unnecessary.

...

So what do the results show?

The samples they found bore the same isotopic fingerprint as Jersey rainwater, different from water that would have fallen on French hills, which is where the diviners and borehole drillers claimed it fell.


This implies that the Jersey water was compared against water from the French hills, which directly contradicts what was said in the DGAG final report:

DGAG final report wrote:The initial draft of the agreement stated that ‘the definitive test of the origin of the water samples will be by comparison of the isotopic signature of the sample from the test borehole with that of water in the Petit Suisse region’ After consideration by DGAG, it was felt that this limited the investigation to a specific region and a revised agreement was drawn up and agreed by the DGAG members.

...

The definitive test will compare the isotopic signature of the water samples from the two test bores with that from the surface aquifer. If the joint consultants BGS and Entec show that there is a significant difference in the isotopic signature then all parties accept that the sampled water has a different source to that of water from the surface aquifer.


My best guess is that the reporter did not keep pace with the changes made to the test protocols, and that therefore the BBC report is inaccurate.

The BBC article continues:

BBC wrote:Regulation is now imminent.

But the diviners and drillers claim foul so what's next?

New water regulations are now on imminent.

So is this the end of the matter?

The scientists say there's no French deep water under Jersey, but George is having none of it and thinks the test drilling just didn't go deep enough

The scientists appear to have proved George conclusively wrong.

But it's going to take a while for Jersey folk to give up a legend which they've clung onto for generations.


Note the Wikipedia link at the bottom.

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Re: Now I'm confused

Postby Grahame Gardner » Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:08 am

Ian Pegler wrote:
This implies that the Jersey water was compared against water from the French hills, which directly contradicts what was said in the DGAG final report

Not exactly. It states that the water samples did not contain any "rare oxygen-18 isotope", which was what they expected the French water to have. It does not say that they actually tested any French water.
So their conclusion is based on an assumption. This is hardly scientific reasoning.... OR objective reporting, for that matter! :shock:


I see the wikipedia page has been edited again, and is also under dispute. Interesting...
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A bit vague

Postby Ian Pegler » Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:50 pm

I disagree. When I read:

BBC wrote:The samples they found bore the same isotopic fingerprint as Jersey rainwater, different from water that would have fallen on French hills, which is where the diviners and borehole drillers claimed it fell.


This, in my opinion, implies that French water had been tested, otherwise how would they know it was different, isotopically speaking? The Jersey surface aquifer, the test bores and French rainwater might all have similar isotopic ranges for all we know. At any rate it's a bit vague.

Grahame wrote:I see the wikipedia page has been edited again, and is also under dispute. Interesting...


Looking at the history logs I see that the editor with the IP address 209.247.22.22 has also edited pages on the computer game Pac-man and three American pro-wrestlers. That figures. :wink:

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George Langlois

Postby Ian Pegler » Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:49 am

It seems George Langlois had a property development company, which he has since sold.

There's a picture of him water-divining on this page.

CLICK HERE

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Re: A bit vague

Postby Ian Pegler » Wed Nov 23, 2011 8:23 am

Ian Pegler wrote:Looking at the history logs I see that the editor with the IP address 209.247.22.22 has also edited pages on the computer game Pac-man and three American pro-wrestlers. That figures. :wink:
Ian


Oh that's interesting...


Wikiscanner doesn't list the fact that someone with this IP edited the wiki Dowsing webpage, even though the history logs do.

Clearly WikiScanner is not even picking up on all the anonymous edits.

Note, the IP is that of an ISP so it's not necessarily the same person editing it each time.

Consequently my assertion in my previous e-mail is wrong. :oops: Or at least it could be.

Ian


Last bumped by Ian Pegler on Wed Nov 23, 2011 8:23 am.
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