For the Reckingers of Woodbury, rain barrels are a family affair. Parents Jim and Mary are the local boosters, but credit their environmental educator daughter with encouraging them to install the pair that sits on the side of their house, April through September.

And the generational influence has continued to trickle up. Now the grandparents also have rain barrels.

 

“In most families, parents influence their children. In our family, it’s the other way around,” says Jim of their four ecologically-minded children, all of whom pursued careers in environmental protection.

 

Originally, installing rain barrels was their daughter’s idea, but the barrels also appealed to the Reckinger’s desire for efficiency. Both former IT employees of the St. Paul Companies, Jim and Mary agreed that rain barrels “just made sense.” The two were raising children and working full-time jobs, visiting a cabin in Wisconsin whenever possible. For them, the option of turning off the water in the house when they left, and asking a willing neighbor to water flowers and birds from the outside rain barrel-supplied hose, simplified maintenance issues.

 

“We could just let gravity do its job,” says Jim, extolling the virtues of “free water” in an area that has tiered water pricing.

Rain barrel water helps keep Woodbury yard green.
Jim Reckinger directs rain barrel water to the dry patches in his Woodbury yard.

 

Jim’s role on Cedar Lake’s board (in St. Croix County, Wisconsin), near the family cabin, increased his interest in water quality.

 

So, seven years ago, they built the platform that supports two heavy-duty plastic 54-gallon barrels, just off their front porch — figuring their visibility would be a conversation-starter.

 

“We wanted to help people understand how to use them,” says Mary.

Rain barrels maintain this march of flowers in front of this Maplewood home.
Rain barrel water also maintains the march of flowers in front of the Reckinger’s house.

 

The barrels came from Washington County, which offered them at a reasonable price. Installation was simple, says Jim, with the platform requiring more time than inserting the hose or filter on the top that keeps out critters, bugs, and branches. Now, rain barrel water supports both flora and fauna in this verdant corner of Woodbury. As little as two-tenths of an inch of rain will yield 110 gallons of water from 2/3 of the roof that drains into the rain barrels.

 

Other benefits include:

  • Diminishing overall energy consumption;
  • Reducing erosion;
  • Collecting and directing water away from the house; and,
  • Storing water for dry conditions.

 

Most rewarding, says Jim, is the knowledge that they are helping prevent the gush of stormwater runoff into the streets and watershed after a rain event — which also has a multigenerational impact.

 

For information on purchasing rain barrels, visit: http://recycleminnesota.org/work/compost-bins-rain-barrels/

 

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