Water company engineers are using divining rods to help tackle leaks and beat the drought in the South East.
Thirteen million people have been banned from using hosepipes
Southern Water said divining is used by some of its crews, although modern electrical equipment was mostly used.
Divining rods and dowsing tools are associated by many with ancient skills and witchcraft, but some companies still use the technique.
The search for underground water operates by observation of the movement of a hand-held stick or a pointer.
Lawrence Gosden, utility services manager for Southern Water, said: "Fixing leaks is our top priority. We need to make sure we are doing everything we can to beat the drought.
"Divining is one of the techniques used by some of our crews, although by far the majority of teams use modern electrical equipment to measure flows and listen for noises of potential leaks and burst water mains."
He said many leaks in the company's 13,500km network were very small and could sit underground, draining into the soil.
"We use a variety of techniques including listening sticks and digital correlators to listen carefully for the noise of a leak - there is a noise from a leak just the same as a gushing pipe above ground," he said.
The South East is facing its worst drought in a century after two dry winters, with little chance of improvement until the autumn, the Environment Agency has said.
Thirteen million people in the region have now been banned from using hosepipes in order to protect the public water supply.