SMIP: It's How We Empower People to Invest in Philly's Neighborhoods and Rivers

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.

Stormwater Pioneer: Business Makes Smart Move, Helps Our Rivers

Popi's co-owner Gina Ricci talks about why using a SMIP grant to build rain gardens in the restaurant parking lot was such a smart financial move. Credit: Philadelphia Water
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.

Get Funding for Projects to Protect the Schuylkill River Watershed

Schuylkill River and Philadelphia skyline
Image courtesy of Ed Yakovich. 

PWD is one of several public and private funders of The Schuylkill River Restoration Fund

The Fund provides grants to government agencies and non-profit organizations for projects that improve the quality of water in the Schuylkill’s watershed. Since 2006, the Fund has collected more than $2 million and funded over 60 projects! Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Schuylkill River Restoration Fund.

Does your community group, school or non-profit business have a project in the works that might qualify for funding? View the Fund guidelines here. And download the application here

Your organization may also qualify for a $4,000 Land Transaction Assistance Grant, which is intended to assist with transaction costs for permanent land protection projects (conservation easements, full fee acquisitions, donations). Download the Land Transaction Assistance Grant guidelines here.

While the grants also focus on agricultural pollution and abandoned mine drainage, here in Philadelphia, past recipients have used funding from the grants to pay for projects that manage stormwater run-off. 

In 2014 Grants totaling $337,465 were awarded to seven projects. Among them was a $37,961 award for a meadow at SDP’s Cook-Wissahickon School that resulted in 3,300 sq. ft. of new meadow installed and maintained, as well as an education for the neighbors in the difference between a meadow and an unkempt lawn

Want more information? Contact Tim Fenchel at or call the Schuylkill River Heritage Area at 484-945-0200.

PWD awards $8.25 million in stormwater management grants, seeks more applicants

Cardone - Stormwater Management Incentives Program
Cardone Industries, a SMIP grant winner, constructed a stormwater management system at its 60-acre Northeast Philadelphia headquarters that can capture the first 1.38 inches of rainfall per storm and store approximately 5 million gallons of stormwater on site. Photo from ISS Management. 

Meet SMIP (the Stormwater Management Incentives Program) and GARP (Greened Acre Retrofit Program), PWD’s two innovative programs that reward local businesses, institutions and other non-residential water customers financially for retrofitting their properties to divert stormwater out of our combined storm and waste water system. Together, these two programs awarded $8.25 million to four projects (3 SMIPs and 1 GARP) from July to September of 2014. These projects, representing a total of 11 properties, created 92 greened acres! A greened acre manages at least the first inch of rainfall over that acre. This puts us 92 acres closer to our goal of turning 9,500 impervious (water runs off instead of soaks in) acres into “green acres” over the course of our 25 year Green City, Clean Waters program. Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor would be so proud!

SMIP was started in January 2012 and provides grants to non-residential property owners who want to retrofit their properties to manage stormwater. Instead of simply paying higher stormwater management fees, SMIP tips the financial calculations for property owners and creates incentives to build and maintain systems that capture stormwater that would otherwise end up in our sewer system and waterways. SMIP grant recipients not only get financial assistance for the design and implementation of their systems, they will also enjoy the lower stormwater fees since their properties will be generating less runoff. 

W & W Realty Company was awarded a SMIP grant to implement green stormwater management upgrades to its commercial tenant, Dependable Distribution Services Incorporated. With the installation of three large stormwater management systems, their 35-acre site will manage more than 800,000 gallons of stormwater directly on site.

GARP came online in July 2014 and provides stormwater grants to contractors or project aggregators who can build large-scale stormwater retrofit projects across multiple properties. Our first GARP grant went to ISS Management, a stormwater solutions provider, working with eight different commercial property owners. 

To see the three projects that were awarded SMIP grants and the list of properties covered by our first GARP grant, check out this press release announcing the awards. Together, the projects will save these commercial property owners almost $400,000 per year in reduced stormwater fees!

SMIP and GARP are run in partnership with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). Applications for both SMIP and GARP can be submitted at any time and announcements will be made towards the end of each fiscal quarter. So get in now to be considered for the January to March 2015 quarter! Applications not selected in a particular round will have the opportunity to be rolled over to the next without having to resubmit.

More information about both SMIP and GARP can be found on our website. Check out PIDC’s Development and Contract Opportunities page for the grant applications.

Soak It Up! Adoption Program Grant

The Philadelphia Water Department, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) is piloting a new program, Soak It Up! Adoption.

The Soak It Up! Adoption Program provides grants to civic organizations to help maintain the beauty and functionality of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Recipients of the grant will be awarded $5,000 to help care for green stormwater tools by keeping the tool litter-free and ensuring that the surface of inlets and overflow drains are clear of leaves and other debris. In addition, participants track and report to PWD on both the amount and frequency of litter and debris removal from the site. PWD is very grateful to its Adoption partners for lending a hand!

For more information about Soak It Up! Adoption and to determine if your organization qualifies, visit the Philadelphia Water Department’s website.

Coming Soon: Grants for Managing Stormwater on Your Commercial Property

PWD is happy to announce the next round of Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) grants. The Water Department works with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) to provide funding to stimulate investment in stormwater best management practices to mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff. Only non-residential properties are eligible. Projects are evaluated based on criteria including, but not limited to, the total volume of runoff managed, expected benefits, and the ability of the grantee to leverage other funding sources. Grant requests are limited to $100,000 per impervious acre managed or less. Applications will be available on November 1st on PIDC’s website. Applicationsmust be submitted by noon on January 31st, 2014. Applicants will be notified by July 1, 2014 if their applications have been accepted. To read more, and see if you qualify for the SMIP grant, visit the Water Department’s website here.

Manage Stormwater, Save Money: PWD Announces Second Round of SMIP Grants

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This past June, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) announced that it had awarded $3.2 million in grants to facilitate the design and construction of innovative and sustainable stormwater management infrastructure on non-residential properties, such as business, non-profit and school properties. The success of the program has ushered in a second round of grants with a submission deadline of February 1, 2013.

The City of Philadelphia, through the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD)and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), created the Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) to  help reduce the volume of stormwater runoff entering the City's sewer system and to simultaneously help beautify communities. Stormwater management tools, such as green roofs, porous paving, rain gardens,stormwatertree trenches, and detention and retention basins reduce a property’s impervious surface, also resulting in lower monthly stormwater charges.

Our city is covered with large amounts of impervious cover— hard surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt, which prevent rainfall from soaking into the ground. When it rains, this stormwater runoff picks up chemicals and toxins from the impervious surfaces and enters our sewer system, where it can overflow into the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, our sources of drinking water.

Applications for the grant must be submitted electronically by February 1, 2013. Applicants will be notified by July 1, 2013 if their applications have been accepted. Those selected will be eligible to receive credits toward their stormwater charges when their stormwater project has been constructed.
For more information, check out our SMIP Grant page!

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