Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS - Sewerage and Water Board executive director Marcia St. Martin will retire at the end of the year after nearly 9 years in the post, an agency spokesman said.

A news release from the board, following St. Martin's announcement at Wednesday's board meeting, said St. Martin cited upcoming double knee replacement surgery as one reason for her retirement.

She has served as executive director since 2004, and has worked more than 40 years in city government.

St. Martin was appointed by Mayor Ray Nagin and approved by the board. She was at the helm during Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city's infrastructure and led to problems which the agency says it is still grappling with.

Those problems include recent power outages and water service disruptions which the city hopes can be fixed with a combination of FEMA funds and a controversial rate increase approved by the City Council.

St. Martin was the first woman to lead the Sewerage and Water Board, as well as the first African-American to hold the position.

A native of New Orleans, she had served as deputy director of the agency since 1991. She also served as director of the city's Safety and Permits department and as parking administrator.

The S&WB executive committee will develop criteria for a search firm or consultant to lead a national search for executive director.

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