PETER.WILLOTT@STAUGUSTINE.COM Martha Graham, Director of Public Works for the City of St. Augustine, poses for a photograph in the middle of King Street on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Her department maintains the streets, sidewalks, signs and public parks in the city and is responsible for garbage, yard trash and recyclable pickup.
PETER.WILLOTT@STAUGUSTINE.COM Martha Graham, Director of Public Works for the City of St. Augustine, poses for a photograph in the middle of King Street on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.
department maintains the streets, sidewalks, signs and public parks in the city and is responsible for garbage, yard trash and recyclable pickup.
"That's where we got a lot of work ethic," said Martha Graham, who has served as St. Augustine's public works director since 2008.
While the farm life developed her
work ethic, it was an interest in technical issues and problem solving that drew Graham
into engineering and public works.
Graham has about 30 years of experience in public works and utilities, and her career took her from the Adolph Coors Company in Golden, Colo., as a facilities engineer to municipalities and organizations and eventually to St. Augustine - a place where her problem-solving skills have been put to the test.
Part of her
work has included addressing red water issues in the city.
"It's really unacceptable for you to turn your spigot on and have dirty water out of your faucet," she
"We're starting to build back up from where we were before," Graham
Graham has served as the liaison for the parking and traffic committee, which began meeting again in 2014 after about a year's hiatus.
The group's mission could also be changing soon to more of a broader scope.
One of the issues she
worked on earned her
and a colleague an award in 2014 for a paper that documented the problems, procedures and findings related to using the disinfectant Peracetic Acid as an alternative to Chlorine in wastewater treatment.
"Some of the questions or things that I had to help them (with) made me think they weren't any smarter than me," Graham
Graham went to night school in Denver at the University of Colorado and graduated with a degree in civil engineering and later a master's degree in engineering in public works engineering and management from the University of Florida.
After Denver she worked for Adolph Coors Company, where she served as facilities engineer, and she was designer and construction coordinator for the process wastewater treatment plant.
That got her
interested in the civil side of things, she
Graham has worked for organizations including the University of Florida Transportation Research Center as operations manager and several government entities, including the city of Cocoa Beach as city engineer and assistant public works director, Harford County in Maryland as deputy director of public works, the city of Sebastian as city engineer and the city of Melbourne as assistant city engineer.
In Melbourne, she
was responsible for managing multi-million dollar projects such as upgrades to a surface water treatment plant and design and construction of a wastewater treatment plant.
Jenni Lamb, city engineer of Melbourne, worked with Graham as assistant city engineer at the time.
The multi-million dollar project had problems that Graham
had to smooth out.
husband traveled to St. Augustine before she
worked for the city.
Back then she
didn't have an idea she
would be changing jobs.
now lives in downtown St. Augustine with her
has a son, Richard, and a stepson, Patrick.
is part of several local organizations, including the St. Augustine Orchestra
has played the clarinet since she
was 9 years old.
One of the first challenges she faced after coming to St. Augustine was problems with red, or rusty, water.
The issue was illuminated after getting a call from a local resident.
says, 'You need to come over here and see this red water," Graham
The woman handed over a bottle filled with cloudy, stained water.
The city spent more than $1 million in 2009 to fix 3.7 miles of corroded metal pipes and planned to spend millions more, according to a previous story.
Also in 2010, Graham
requested a water chemistry study that found the water was highly corrosive to metal.
By the end of the summer she
had the chemistry altered so that it was easier on the pipes.
Regan said Graham
has organized the expertise of the crew and came up with a systematic list to address red water.
said problems are a part of the job, including sometimes responding to late-night emergencies, but that is why she
got into the field.
"I like the technical nature of it and problem solving," she