As part of Earth Week, Mayor Byron Brown unveiled a new program to help protect water quality in Buffalo.
Brown says the Rain Check Initiative is designed to educate businesses and homeowners about "water-smart landscaping." The program involves disconnecting downspouts and providing homeowners with rain barrels to reduce sewer overflow.
Buffalo Sewer Authority General Manager David Comerford says rain barrels are an effective tool.
"They take the water off of the roofs and it doesn't get into our system. Then you connect a hose to the rain barrel and you can water your garden with that water. So it's taking it off of our system, and we don't have to treat it, and putting it back into the ground and using it...as the resource that it should be," Comerford said at a Monday morning news conference.
Mayor Brown says 1,000 free rain barrels will be available to homeowners on a first come, first served basis. For more information, residents can call 3-1-1.
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka says the goal is to keep rain from the drain.
"Water, in its natural cycle, wants to infiltrate back into the ground," said Jedlicka. "If we can get back to allowing nature to have its natural processes and keeping rain from the drain, then together we'll be able to have a positive impact on our water quality."
Funding for the initiative is being provided by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.