Popi's co-owner Gina Rucci used a SMIP grant to build rain gardens in the restaurant parking lot, and says it was a smart financial move. Credit: Philadelphia Water

For the past 20 years, Popi’s Italian Restaurant has been a beloved fixture in its South Philadelphia community, building a stellar reputation for excellent cuisine in a family-friendly setting. Recently, co-owner Gina Rucci made a smart business move that we’re excited to celebrate. Rucci used over $94,000 from Philadelphia Water to improve her property and neighborhood, all while lowering her stormwater bill by 60 percent. That means the $5,000 investment she contributed will pay for itself in less than two years.

And there’s a big picture bonus in this story, too: by turning her asphalt parking lot into a green stormwater tool, Rucci is doing her part to make Philadelphia’s rivers healthier for all of us and for future generations.

That’s why Popi’s Restaurant is being honored as the 2015 Philadelphia Water Stormwater Pioneer.

On Tuesday, November 17, Philadelphia Water will present awards to Gina Rucci and her project team, including Dan McKenna, project engineer at Wilkinson Associates, Steve Milliken, Vice President of Lakash Constructors, and Rick Wood, Regional Designer at Ruppert Landscapes for excellence in stormwater management.

“The team we have was phenomenal,” says Gina. “I’m going to turn others onto this program—even my competitors. I’m going to say: 'Go to them. They know how to make it happen.' And that’s okay, because it will enhance the entire area. Look at this: I had a parking lot. Now I have a park!”

Rucci, who has been helping to run Popi’s since her late father opened the classic Italian eatery, was one of a number of business owners to take advantage of a Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) grant this year. And, as Philadelphia Water ramps up our efforts to manage stormwater with green infrastructure, we’re hoping more people will follow her lead.

“The SMIP grant program is a win-win for Philadelphia Water and local businesses,” said Philadelphia Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug. “We’re in this for the benefits to our water quality, but there are serious bottom-line benefits to green infrastructure for business and commercial property owners.”

You can learn more about how your business or commercial property of any size can benefit from SMIP by clicking here, but we really recommend that you hear Gina Rucci’s story in her own words by watching this short, inspiring video about her experience:

Stormwater Pioneers Award Ceremony

Date: Tuesday, November 17th

Time: 10:30 AM

Location: Popi’s Restaurant, 3120 S 20th St.

For more information: Please email Maggie.Dunn@phila.gov or call 215-971-6151.