California’s defining resource challenge is to reconcile ag and urban water supply with environmental and flood protection in the face of climate change. Collaborative research from growers, water suppliers, and conservationists on Central Valley floodplain farms is showing that integrating ecologically informed practices and technologies into California’s outdated water infrastructure will create benefits for agriculture, fish & wildlife, flood protection, and aquifer recharge. The old ways separated species from the environment. The new way adds 21st century ecological understanding of natural processes into the design & operation of the water system. This multiple-benefit model for agricultural working lands promotes species conservation and flood safety, while sustaining farm communities, ag economies, and water security for tens of millions of Californians.