What are people saying about our Stormwater Pioneer? Watch this:

Last Tuesday, November 17th, Deputy Commissioner Chris Crockett joined Mayor Michael Nutter, City Councilmen Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla and local business and community leaders to celebrate Popi’s Italian Restaurant and co-owner Gina Rucci as Philadelphia’s 2015 Stormwater Pioneer.

Rucci successfully leveraged a $94,860 grant through Philadelphia Water’s Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) to create two rain gardens that reduced her stormwater bill by 60 percent while adding attractive landscaping to the restaurant parking lot.

Noting that the rain gardens have been a big hit with her customers and that they will help protect Philadelphia’s drinking water for future generations, Rucci urged other business to take advantage of the grant program.

"People complain about their water bill, but the Water Department actually takes its own revenue and gives back to us, which is why we could do this,"  Rucci told the crowd. "There aren't many places that give you your money back. They're taking the money...and giving it back to you so you can invest your business and neighborhood." 

"The Stormwater Pioneers program is a great example of how a city agency can be innovative while also helping to promote economic development," Mayor Nutter said. "This beautiful garden used to be an asphalt parking lot. Prior to this, when a heavy rainstorm hit, water would pour down and wash into the city sewers, bringing along spilled motor oil, gasoline and whatever other pollutants might have been sitting on the surface. Now, we have a natural filter to help control and clean that excess water."

As part of last week’s ceremony, Crockett presented Gina Rucci with a plaque honoring Popi’s as a Stormwater Pioneer. Councilman Johnson, in whose district Popi’s is located, presented Rucci with a citation from City Council recognizing Popi’s for its commitment to environmental safety and community enhancement.

Philadelphia Water also honored the members of the engineering and design team for the important role they played in the project—Lakash Constructors, Wilkinson Associates and Ruppert Landscape.

"We are very pleased to honor Gina Rucci and Popi’s for their commitment to improving the environment and their community," said Crockett. "It is our hope that more businesses all across the city will take a look at the Stormwater Management Incentives Program and follow Gina’s and Popi’s example, said Crockett. "To some, it may seem like a small step, but it’s a vital one. Stormwater runoff is the main source of pollution in our rivers and streams and, by creating these rain gardens, Gina and Popi’s are providing a natural filter that will keep our streams clean and our drinking water safe."

To learn more about how a business or commercial property of any size can benefit from SMIP click here.