Continuing dry spell City of Bonn asks for water donations for trees

Bonn · A warm spring with little rain is hurting the trees in Bonn. After the hot summer of 2019, the city is once again asking its citizens for help with watering.

 University student Jule (22) waters a chestnut tree in front of her apartment.  Around 500 trees in Bonn are suffering from the lack of precipitation.

University student Jule (22) waters a chestnut tree in front of her apartment. Around 500 trees in Bonn are suffering from the lack of precipitation.

Foto: Victoria Thiele

Jule carries buckets full of water to the front door. "One bucket isn’t enough," she says. The student wants to water the chestnut tree in front of her house in the Südstadt. The tree at the side of the road looks thick and robust. But it is suffering. For two years now the German summers have been extremely hot and dry and in winter there is not enough rain to make up for the deficiency. According to the German Weather Service, April 2020 was the third driest April since measurements began in 1881. Despite some storms, the situation did not improve in May.

The City of Bonn is now calling on its citizens to donate water. Every bucket helps the trees to survive the dry period, according to the city. It is putting other projects of the City Parks Department aside so they can help protect the plants. Three to four employees are currently traveling with water trucks around each of the twelve districts to provide extra water for the trees and plantings.

An improvement of the current situation is not expected anytime soon. Bonn weather expert Karsten Brandt says there was aa inadequate amount of precipitation in May and April. He adds that we don’t necessarily expect another summer of extreme heat, but the expectations are that temperatures will still be above the average of the last 20 years. "The city will certainly not manage on its own, everyone must help to water the trees", the weather expert says, encouraging people to support watering efforts.

If you want to help, you should first moisten the hard, dry ground so that the water in the soil can soak in and not run off, the city recommends. For those who want to do more, the Parks Department offers sponsorship opportunities for trees and flower beds. The sponsors help the city to care for the trees, water them, remove weeds and alert the Parks Department if they discover damage or disease.

Right now, support is particularly needed for young trees whose roots do not yet reach deep enough into the ground to use water stored in the soil. Young trees need around 100 liters of water twice a week in extremely dry periods.

According to Dieter Fuchs, head of the Office for Urban Greenery in Bonn, almost 500 trees in the city are especially suffering from the drought. Among the deciduous trees, birch, sycamore and copper beech are the most affected. Among the coniferous trees, red spruce, oriental spruce and Serbian spruce are the most affected.

Depending on the species and age, the trees need between 80 and 300 liters of water every two weeks. "Last year we needed 200,000 liters," says Axel Müller-Storp, the local representative of the Bonn district council.

In order to provide such quantities of water during a hot summer, additional help is needed - also from the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief. Volunteers load the THW vehicles with 1000-liter barrels of water and go on irrigation runs.

The fire department will also be involved. In late summer 2019, the fire trucks were on watering duty for several weeks. Dieter Fuchs believes that this may also happen in 2020.

For those who want to volunteer to sponsor a tree or flower bed, more information can be found here.

Orig. text: Victoria Thiele and Jonas Dirker. Translation: ck

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