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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Archived Press Releases > 2015 Archives > April 2015 > 'Rain Check' Initiative To Protect Local Waterways

'Rain Check' Initiative To Protect Local Waterways


Rain Check is a collaborative citywide effort to protect water quality and quantity through various programs and resources for city homeowners and businesses

Aprill 20, 2015 – Today, City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, the Buffalo Sewer Authority and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo kicked off Earth Week with a new initiative that builds on efforts to keep Buffalo waterways clean and healthy.  The initiative, called Rain Check, is a citywide effort to educate businesses and homeowners about how water-smart landscaping can protect water quality. Rain Check will offer a variety of programs and resources, including a downspout disconnect/rain barrel program. Rain Check’s campaign development was made possible through the Community Foundation and a national investment. 

“We care about the health and well-being of Buffalo residents as well as the city’s many waterways and wildlife,” said Mayor Brown.  “I’m proud of the partnership between the City of Buffalo and Buffalo Sewer Authority which has resulted in “green” streets like Carlton Avenue, Ardmore Place, Fillmore Avenue and Ohio Street; green vacant lot management; the City’s Green Code and the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.  I thank our Rain Check partners for helping us do more for the environment and I invite each city resident to feel a sense of ownership by doing their part to keep our precious waterways clean and healthy through Rain Check and its downspout disconnect program.”

City homeowners who sign up through the program will receive a home visit from the Buffalo Sewer Authority to determine if their property is eligible for a downspout disconnection and/or rain barrel installation. Most properties in the City are great candidates for this water management technique. Rain Check’s goal for 2015 is to install up to 1,000 rain barrels throughout Buffalo with the support of its community partners at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER and PUSH Buffalo.  The Authority has a 20 year goal of keeping at least 1.28 billion gallons of rain and snow melt water from entering Buffalo’s waterways each year.

"Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is pleased to collaborate with the Rain Check initiative on helping residents take steps to improve water quality in our local waterways," said Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. "Thousands of downspout disconnections and the use of rain barrels will substantially decrease the amount of stormwater runoff that triggers sewage overflows, and over time these actions can help protect human health and improve the ecological integrity of our waterways."

"Partnering with Rain Check will allow PUSH to expand its own small scale rain barrel distribution program to reach more residents throughout the City of Buffalo,” said Aaron Bartley, PUSH Buffalo Executive Director. “These efforts directly involve residents in the critical work to manage stormwater and improve our community's water and natural resources."

Many northeast cities, including Buffalo, have Combined Sewer Systems (CSS) that collect sanitary waste as well as runoff from rain events and snow melting. When too much water flows into this system because of a heavy rainstorm or a lot of melting snow, the systems are designed to protect basements from back-ups by directing overflow into our creeks, streams and lakes. By managing water where it falls through landscaping and efforts like disconnecting downspouts, the City can prevent rain water from entering into this system, which ultimately results in improved water quality.

“The Buffalo Sewer Authority was created 80 years ago this month to protect local waterways from sewage pollution.   Our collection system and treatment plant are able to capture and treat over 90% of the City’s sanitary and stormwater runoff,” said Buffalo Sewer Authority General Manager David P. Comerford.  “Rain Check now allows us to educate, engage and interact with the City’s residents and businesses in a way that will have a lasting impact on our region’s water. The Buffalo Sewer Authority is dedicated to providing members of the community with easy-to-access and understand information on how they can make a difference on an individual level.”

The cross-sector partnership between the Buffalo Sewer Authority and the Community Foundation is a cornerstone of the Rain Check initiative, attracting the interest of a national organization of grantmakers.

“The Community Foundation remains committed to driving significant community change in support of enhancing and leveraging our natural assets, which has allowed us to convene partners and resources toward this important initiative,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “Our funding and coordinated partnership with the Buffalo Sewer Authority was key in attracting an $85,000 matching grant from the Partners for Places fund – a project of The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, creating a total of $170,000 to help launch this vital campaign that will specifically address stormwater runoff issues in our region.”

Rain Check’s downspout disconnect program is open to all city residents. Applications can be submitted by filling out the online form,, or by texting “Rain Check” to 877-877.  City residents can also call 851-4664. Up to 1,000 rain barrels will be available in 2015, with distribution beginning in May. An equal number of rain barrels will be provided in each Council district.  Names will be kept for future distribution.

About Rain Check
Rain Check is a Mayor Byron W. Brown effort to protect Buffalo's water quality and quantity, led by the Buffalo Sewer Authority.  The Buffalo Sewer Authority and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo partnered to attract a national grant from Partners for Places - a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. The development of Rain Check and its initial public engagement campaign was made possible through this grant.

About the Buffalo Sewer Authority
Celebrating its 80th anniversary this month, the Buffalo Sewer Authority was created in April 1935 to protect local waterways from sewage pollution.  The Buffalo Sewer Authority operates the combined sewer collection system and the second largest wastewater treatment plant in NY. 

About the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, a 501(c)(3) organization, was established in 1919 to enhance and encourage long-term philanthropy in the Western New York community. The Community Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. For over 95 years the Community Foundation has made the most of the generosity of individuals, families, foundations and organizations who entrust charitable assets to the Community Foundation’s care.