A Philadelphia Water Department worker was shot in the foot yesterday morning while on the job in North Philadelphia.

Loretta Palmer, 55, was cleaning a street sewer on Huntingdon Street near Franklin shortly before 11 a.m. when several gunshots rang out, said Jeff Gilliam, business manager for Palmer's union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 394.

"While working, they heard a series of gunshots, but [their truck] obstructed their view," Gilliam said. "They never saw who was doing the shooting."

A bullet struck Palmer, of North Philadelphia, in the right foot, Gilliam said.

Palmer's injuries weren't life threatening but were "pretty severe," he added.

The bullet is still in her foot, and there were several fractures, he said.

"The public needs to understand water, sanitation, health-department workers and our streets department - all work in these high-crime neighborhoods," he said.

"These are the things we deal with every day," he said. "All she was doing was her job." *