This Water Activated Alarm circuit uses a NE555 timer wired as an astable oscillator and powered by the emitter current of the transistor BC109C. Under dry conditions, the transistor will from have no bias current and be fully off. As the probes get wet, a small current flows Between the base and emitter and the transistor switches on. A larger current flows in the collector circuit enabling the IC NE555 osillator to sound.
Probe/contacts may use a non-reactive metal. Gold or silver plated contacts from an old relay May be Used, however a cheap alternative is to wire alternate copper strips from a piece of veroboard. These will eventually oxidize over but as very little current is flowing in the base circuit, the higher impedance the caused by oxidization is not Important. No base resistor is Necessary as the transistor is in emitter follower, current limit being the impedance at the emitter (the oscillator circuit).
Circuit from: www.epanorama.net