PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– At the Philadelphia Flower Show, there was a day-long “Water Summit,” during which environmental and industry experts discussed how to protect and conserve water resources. The local program looks to keep pollution out of rivers and creeks.

The Philadelphia Water Department’s new “Rain Check” program uses green stormwater infrastructure tools to help homeowners reduce one of the biggest pollution sources, stormwater runoff.

Credit: Steve Tawa

Zach Popkin, the Residential Stormwater Program Manager with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, says homeowners can get free rain barrels to capture stormwater runoff in their downspouts, and subsidies for downspout planters, rain gardens, and permeable pavers, stones or bricks.

“They allow stormwater to infiltrate in between the joint spaces, and then underneath the paver bricks, is a fairly deep layer of drainage stone, that allows water to percolate, back into the ground,” he told KYW Newsradio.

Glen Abrams, Senior Director of Planning and Sustainable Communities at PHS, says residential properties account for about 20 percent of Philadelphia’s total impervious surface area – hard surfaces – including rooftops, patios, sidewalks and driveways, where water can’t soak into the ground.

The goal is to keep stormwater out sewer systems during rainstorms to reduce the burden on sewer systems, which can overflow in bad weather, and then pollute our local waterways.