As the drought tightens the screws on human use of California’s evaporating water supply, conservation, restoration and collaboration grow ever more important. This issue explores some current opportunities for constructive action, from using empty aquifers as reservoirs to restoring marshes so they “retreat-ready” for sea level rise and giving river floodplains more than another layer of rip rap. Other stories cover the darkening future of California’s Chinook salmon, the lack of evidence that delta smelt can be blamed for stealing anyone’s water, and a kitchen-sink test for emerging contaminants.