The Nicola watershed is one of the driest regions of British Columbia and historically has experienced periodic drought. Long term predictions call for more frequent and more severe drought periods in years to come. The science of forecasting drought is imprecise and sometimes the warning signs come too late. Factors such as changes in land use over time, climate change and the drilling of new wells, may not result in an immediate and visible impact on the water supply. Over the long term, the results may not be reversible. It is easy to forget that this watershed does not have an overabundance of water. Wise water use and ongoing water conservation even during normal conditions will mitigate drought impacts when drought will be present.
When precipitation, be it snow or rain, is minimal and unevenly distributed throughout the year, dams play a role in water conservation and in conserving water for future use. By storing water in this way, it is available when it is needed to meet objectives such as enhancing stream flow and safeguarding riparian vegetation. In times of drought, especially prolonged drought, storing water becomes that much more important. Good knowledge of storage supply and dam release can offset effects of drought in some areas.
The Nicola watershed has numerous small dams and two larger ones (at Nicola Lake and Mamit Lake). The former is operated by the province of British Columbia and the latter by the Lower Nicola Indian Band. All dams catch freshet flows for later release to streams and for irrigation.