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Member Spotlight:


Karen Moran, P.E.

Senior Vice President
Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP

Posted June 27, 2019


On scattered mornings, Karen Moran starts her day by paddling out onto the Magothy River.

“I love to go out early. I have seen foxes playing on the banks of the creeks and herons having arguments. The herons make the most god-awful noise and they dive bomb each other. And I just sit there, watching,” said Moran, Senior Vice President at Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP (WRA). 

It’s a fitting pastime for an engineer who has devoted her career to water quality issues.

The daughter of two chemists, Moran stumbled into an engineering career when she entered the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. On her advisor’s suggestion, she enrolled in an introductory engineering class.

“I loved it. The problem solving and the chance to pursue a career that mattered to the environment hooked me,” she said.

After earning degrees in forest engineering and civil engineering, Moran joined the water/wastewater group of O’Brien and Gere. 

“This was back in the day of Love Canal and PCB contamination in the upper Hudson River,” she said. “So some of my first projects were at industrial facilities, dealing with spill control plans, investigating past spills and trying to track contaminant plumes in the ground.”

But soon, Moran began focusing almost solely on water and wastewater projects, from engineering treatment systems for previously un-sewered municipalities to addressing the challenges of major cities to marrying legacy water systems with leading-edge technologies.  After joining WRA in 2004, Moran began working on upgrades to the City of Baltimore’s open finished water reservoirs — systems that are no longer permitted under federal regulations. For the past several years, she has worked on a $135-million plan to install two large storage tanks at the western end of Druid Lake. 

“There are a lot of technical challenges,” she said. “We have had to do geotechnical borings in the middle of the lake while it was still functioning as a drinking water reservoir. The project requires a cofferdam so the contractor can dewater behind it and we need hundreds of anchors going down into the rock beneath the tanks to hold them down.”

In addition, the project team has had to address public relations challenges (the plan to shrink the lake initially incurred some public opposition) and manage additional project elements, including the creation of grassy areas, an amphitheater and walking trails around the re-engineering lake. 

Although the project, which is slated for completion in 2022, has included some tasks that “engineers don’t normally excel at,” it will ultimately implement best water management practices while remaining sensitive to the history and community surrounding the reservoir, Moran said. “This will probably be one of the premier projects of my career.” 






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