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July 20, 2012


Chris Gilbride / Mercedes Padilla (DEP) (718) 595-6600
David Strauss (QMA) (718) 592-9700 X 145

DEP Installs Replica of Newtown Creek Digester Eggs at Queens Museum of Art’s Panorama of the City of New York

$5 Billion Upgrade at Newtown Creek Has Helped Make New York Harbor the Cleanest it Has Been in 100 Years;

Digester Eggs Have Become Iconic Part of Brooklyn Skyline.

New York City Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland today joined Queens Museum of Art Director Tom Finkelpearl to announce the installation of a replica of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant digester eggs on the Panorama of New York City at the Queens Museum of Art. The installation marks the fourth anniversary of the completion of the digester eggs which process 1.5 million gallons of sludge each day. The digester eggs reduce the solid content of the sludge by 40% and remove harmful pathogens making the leftover product safe for disposal or beneficial reuse projects such as soil stabilization. Since 2008 the eggs have been illuminated at night and have since become an iconic part of the Brooklyn skyline.

“Placing a replica of the Newtown Creek digester eggs on the Panorama of the City of New York symbolizes the impact the eggs have had on the skyline, and is a reminder of the critical role that wastewater treatment plays in the daily lives of all New Yorkers,” said Commissioner Strickland. “Since 2002 we have invested nearly $9 billion in water quality projects and today New York Harbor is cleaner than it has been in 100 years.”

“The Queens Museum has been working with the Department of Environmental Protection on providing a bridge between art, education and conservation for the past five years, and the placement of the Newtown Creek Digester Eggs on the Panorama marks another important step in our partnership,” said Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art. “What began with the restoration and exhibition of the 1939 World’s Fair model of the New York Watershed, evolved into a series of educational initiatives for students, teachers and museum educators, and now the addition of the Newtown Creek facility on the Panorama will allow us to discuss environmental issues with the tens of thousands of school children who visit the Panorama each year.”

Newtown Creek is the largest of New York City's 14 wastewater treatment plants. The plant serves approximately 1 million residents in a drainage area of more than 15,000 acres (25 square miles). The plant opened in 1967 and currently treats 18% of the City's wastewater with a capacity of 310 million gallons per day during dry weather. Work to upgrade the plant began in 1998, and will eventually raise plant capacity to 700 million gallons per day during wet weather storms. The upgraded plant will serve a projected population of 1.33 million residents within the relevant drainage area by 2045. The upgrades includes reconstruction of two pumping stations, improved operating systems, expanded electrical power capacity, a new disinfection system, centrifuges, boilers and blowers, aeration and sedimentation basins, sludge storage tanks, and a new control room. The upgrade will be completed in 2014.

Digesters play a critical role in the wastewater treatment process. Inside of digesters, bacteria break down this sludge – the solid material removed from water during the treatment process - into more stable material. During the process pathogens are removed from the material making it safe for disposal or reuse.

Each of the Newtown Creek digester eggs holds 3 million gallons of sludge. The eggs are 145 high, 80 feet in diameter, and are covered with low reflectivity stainless steel. The eight eggs were welded on site from pieces brought from Texas and fabricated by Chicago Bridge and Iron—each took three months to assemble. Although the weight of each egg is roughly two million pounds when empty, they can weigh up to 32 million pounds while processing wastewater. The blue lights illuminating the eggs were designed by artist Hervé Descottes of L'Observatoire International, a French-American company.

Newtown Creek also serves as a place to educate New Yorkers about the wastewater treatment process. DEP holds tours the second Tuesday of every month to explain to visitors the role the digester eggs play in the plant’s treatment of 300 million gallons of wastewater every day.

The replica was built by the School of Architecture at City College, in partnership with the Queens Museum of Art. The installation was made as part of the Adopt-a-Building program at the museum which allows New Yorkers to sponsor a piece on the Panorama. The model of the digester eggs is made of balsa wood and is approximately four inches long, one inch high and 1.5 inches wide.

The Panorama of the City of New York is the crown jewel in the collection of the Queens Museum of Art. Built by Robert Moses for the 1964 World's Fair as a celebration of the City's municipal infrastructure, the 9,335 square foot architectural model includes every single building constructed before 1992 in all five boroughs—a total of 895,000 individual structures. The Museum’s Adopt-A-Building Program allows New Yorkers to “own a piece of New York.” Donations for building and placing new developments allow interested fans of the Panorama and the city it represents to not only receive a "deed" to their property, but also support the maintenance and updating of the model and ensure that ongoing educational programming continues. New buildings are created by first and second-year architectural students from City College's architecture program through an internship, under the supervision of Fran Leadon.

DEP manages the city’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,400 miles of sewer lines and 95 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP employs nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 in the upstate watershed. DEP has a robust capital program with a planned $13.2 billion in investments over the next 10 years that creates up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, like us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at

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