the watering of golf greens is controversial

In the midst of a drought, restrictions on the use of water are gradually spreading throughout the territory. The golf courses, which can continue to water their greens, are an exception. But is it a preferential regime or the minimum of survival?

While drought is raging everywhere in France and prefectures are increasing water restriction measures, golf courses are still authorized to water a small part of their land. In Moselle, several elected officials and activists of the NUPES are rising up. Professionals in the sector, for their part, require that a minimum of watering be necessary to safeguard employment.

Almost all of the French departments are on a dry regime and are subject to decrees limiting in particular the filling of swimming pools in private homes, agricultural irrigation, road cleaning or even the watering of green spaces. Yet golfers can continue to push their balls onto verdant greens.

The derogation for golf courses may seem innocuous but it is a powerful measure in symbols when we ask the population to make efforts to limit their water consumption.

Charlotte Leduc, NUPES-LFI MP for the 3rd district of Moselle

An unjust exception? In any case, this is the opinion of Charlotte Leduc, NUPES-LFI deputy for the 3rd district of Moselle, who denounces the watering of part of the golf courses, in the midst of a drought: “More than 90 departments are in a drought situation in France, including the two levels at the maximum alert level. The variable for golf courses may seem insignificant but it is a strong measure in symbols when we ask the population to make efforts to limit their water consumption. We authorize the watering of the greens while we prohibit the watering of crops that feed people and animals and then we ask the French to stop watering their gardens and turn off the water when they brush their teeth”.

Priority should be given to the most essential uses such as food, drinking water, domestic hygiene use and only industrial and leisure uses.

Frédéric Vitoux, EELV activist in Metz

Same observation on the side of Europe Ecology The Greens. “It is an authorization that questions us and shocks us, considering that water is a precious good and that we should not do anything with it. We must favor the most essential uses such as food, drinking water, domestic hygienic use and after only industrial and leisure uses.believes Frédéric Vitoux, EELV activist in Metz. “Are we moving towards social justice that guarantees water to those who need it most or towards a policy that favors leisure associated with a certain level of wealth and that consumes a lot of water? »asks the environmental activist.

Faced with landscapes completely yellowed by the sun, lawns of sparkling green. In the Grange aux Ormes golf course, in Marly, in Moselle, the greens are watered during the night. But it is actually only a very small part of the land, which represents 2% of the surface of the golf course.

“Since mid-July we have reduced watering and since the reinforcement of measures, we have stopped watering the fairways, on only waters the greens and the teeing area. Apart from the greens, all the golf course is yellow and parched. We have to be pedagogical to explain the drop in quality to customers, but that’s normal, we play the game and we respect the law”says golf director Pierre Bogenez.

There are a lot of industries that use much more water than us and we don’t ask ourselves the question, golf courses are 15,000 jobs in France

Pierre Bogenez, director of the Grange aux Ormes golf course in Marly (Moselle)

The total cessation of watering represented the “business closure” for the director of this golf course, who ensures that minimal watering is necessary. “If we no longer water the greens, we can no longer play and we close. It takes at least three months to rebuild a green. There are a lot of industries that use much more water than us and we don’t ask ourselves the question, golf courses represent 15,000 jobs in France”supports Pierre Bogenez.

We are very careful about the environment so it’s a false controversy, we must not destroy the economy either

Pierre Bogenez, director of the Grange aux Ormes golf course in Marly (Moselle)

“We are very careful about the environment so it’s a false controversy, we must not destroy the economy either. I’m ready to discuss it with our detractors, at home we play golf for 60 euros a month and no it’s not a sport reserved for wealth as we can hear”adds the director of the Grange aux Ormes golf course.

The golf courses, also subject to restrictions in times of drought, benefit from a partial authorization for watering. These measures, set out in the “Guide to the implementation of measures to restrict water use in periods of drought” of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, apply according to the level of severity of the drought.

  • In “alert threshold”, it is forbidden to water golf courses from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., so as to reduce weekly water consumption by 15 to 30%.
  • In the event of “enhanced alert”, this figure increases to 60% with a ban on watering the grounds. The teeing areas and the greens, that is to say the area with the lowest grass on the course located around the holes, can always be watered.
  • Finally, in “crisis threshold”, if it is forbidden to water the grounds and only the greens can always be watered unless there is a shortage of drinking water. Watering is then applied “reduced to what is strictly necessary” between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., which represents less than 30% of the usual volumes.

On average, a golf course requires 25,000m3 of water per year, according to the French Golf Federation.

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