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Buffalo offering 1,000 free down spouts, rain barrels to city residents

City Hall is encouraging residents to collect rain water run-off from their homes rather than letting it flow into sewers, a move aimed at helping prevent Buffalo’s sewer and storm water system from getting overwhelmed.

As an enticement, the city is offering 1,000 down spouts and rain barrels free of charge to residents. When those spouts and barrels are gone, the city will sell additional ones for $100 and $200 each, depending on whether residents need a large or small barrel.

The first 1,000 will go to the first residents to contact the city, evenly divided between Buffalo’s nine Common Council districts.

The Buffalo Sewer Authority will deliver and install the equipment. The water collected in the barrels, city officials said, can be hooked up to a hose and used to water lawns.

Anyone interested can sign up by visiting, by texting 877-877 or by calling 311.

The program, known as Rain Check, is part of a 2014 commitment by the city with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to reduce sewage and storm water run-off into Buffalo’s combined sewer system. The system gets overwhelmed during heavy rains, sending sewage into local waters, including Scajaquada Creek.

At a Monday news conference, Mayor Byron W. Brown said the down spouts and rain barrels offer a way for all city residents to help address the problem.

The Rain Check program is supported by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, which donated $170,000 toward the project, part of money the foundation obtained from a national organization.

The program is being offered citywide following a pilot program that began two years ago, which found the down spouts and barrels effective in reducing water going into the sewer and storm water system, according to sewer authority officials.

The city has also been working on the program with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and PUSH Buffalo.