When the Kronberg golfers swing to tee off, they are standing on lush, green grass.

Even when putting, you don't have to move over dry grass, because these parts of the golf course at Kronberg Castle have been watered in recent weeks.

Jan Schiefenhoevel

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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The players don't have to have a bad conscience, although there is a shortage of tap water in Kronberg - so scarce that the city administration switched its drinking water traffic light to red more than two weeks ago to call for water conservation.

Because the water that the golf and country club uses to irrigate its lawn does not come from the water pipe, as Markus Erdmann, the club manager, explains.

According to him, however, groundwater is not used either.

Rather, the gardeners obtain the water from a “dig” – a tapped spring.

The mining rights belong to the castle, in whose park the golf course is located.

The club pays money for the water from the prospecting to the owner of the castle, the Hessische Hausstiftung, which administers the estates of the noble family of Hessen.

The prospecting is "very productive", as Erdmann says.

Even after weeks of drought, it still provides water, which the club collects in a reservoir.

Five percent of the total area

However, the gardeners do not water the square during the current dry phase as usual, but use the water collected on the castle property sparingly.

Only the tees and the greens are watered, as Erdmann says.

According to Andrea Kabuth, who is a member of the club's board of directors, only five percent of the total area is currently irrigated.

The extensive areas in between, called fairways by golfers, no longer receive any water.

According to the manager, the gardeners only need a quarter of the amount of water they would otherwise use.

The grass on the fairways is not cut as short as on the green, so that the stalks last without watering.

It's different on the greens, where the players carefully approach the hole with their ball.

There the grass is kept so short that without water it would wither and then have to be sown again.

According to Erdmann, only water from the digging of the castle is currently used.

In times when there is no water shortage, when the fairways are also irrigated, tap water and water from the quarry are used in equal proportions.

As the club manager said, the club plans to build a pond.

Then he would have an even larger reservoir and could collect rainwater to gradually use it for irrigation.

According to Kabuth, the golf course is the largest contiguous unsealed area in the city area, which means that a lot of surface water collects during heavy rain.

The approval process for the reservoir is nearing completion, as Kabuth says.

She emphasizes that the golf club adheres to the specifications of the traffic light set to red in Kronberg and coordinates closely with the city when it comes to the sustainable use of water.

Water supply is regulated

The first city councilor Robert Siedler (independent) protects the golfers against criticism in so-called social media.

The difficulties with the water shortage were not caused by the golf club and the use of its own prospecting, the use of which is subject to strict conditions.

At other times, the golf club gets water from the city, but not in large quantities.

In one year, the association does not even use as much tap water as the entire city does in two days.

This water supply is regulated in a contract between the city and the club.

Otherwise, the city council and mayor Christoph König (SPD) warn the residents to use tap water sparingly.

With the current drought, it is necessary "to reduce fresh water consumption to an absolutely necessary minimum in order not to endanger the water supply".

To make this obvious, the city introduced the water traffic light three years ago.

"We don't have a supply problem, we have a consumption problem," emphasizes König.

Even outside of heat phases, per capita consumption in Kronberg is a quarter higher than the average in Germany.

In times of heat and drought, consumption in Kronberg skyrockets – from 3,000 to 4,000 cubic meters a day.

A large part of the additional tap water is used to water beds and lawns.

Siedler demands that watering must be reduced or stopped altogether when the water traffic light is yellow or red.

“A brown lawn certainly doesn't look pretty, but it recovers.

It doesn't have to be watered.” The drinking water traffic light is already having a positive effect, as the mayor notes.

Without them, more than 4,000 cubic meters a day were used in Kronberg during dry periods.

In the neighboring town of Oberursel, people have also had good experiences with the drinking water traffic light, which has been there since 2020.

The public utilities register that, despite the heat, only slightly more tap water is used than in an average year - even though the traffic light in Oberursel is only yellow and not yet red.