Sink or Swim: Colonel Kimberly Colloton’s Vision For the L.A. River

The new L.A. head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers goes with the flow

Illustration by Nigel Buchanan

The Corps oversees the nation’s water infrastructure, and Colloton is tasked with the long-awaited transformation of the L.A. River. “We’re trying to restore the river to be able to provide an ecosystem with more green space.” Prepare to wait—going from a flood channel to communal paradise takes time. “We’re shaping what the river is going to be in 50 years. Our immediate responsibility is to get a project authorized. Once funding comes in, our work will become the backbone for other visions.” The first step: ensuring the redesign will keep L.A. above water. “You can’t forget history. Look at the flood of 1938—it’s one of the reasons we constructed five dams and 50 miles of flood control channel in the basin. You have to appreciate water, not just to drink and grow things but for the damage it can do.”

Related: Mayor Garcetti’s Hope For The L.A. River