In order to understand the hydrological impacts of the nature-based solutions in the Cantareira Water Supply System, this study evaluates six different land cover and land use change scenarios. The first and second consider the restoration of native vegetation in riparian areas, the third prioritizes restoration sites using biophysical characteristics (optimized restoration scenario derived from Resource Investment Optimization System—RIOS), the fourth considers best management practices and the fifth and sixth are hypothetical extreme scenarios converting all pasture to forest and vice versa. Two hydrological models were developed to represent the distributions of water and yields in the study watershed: HEC-HMS and SWAT. Simulation results indicate that when nature-based solutions are implemented, surface runoff is reduced and ambient storage increases during the rainy season (December–March); while the overall flow increases during the dry season (June–September). The combination of specific hydrologic components of RIOS-customized intervention scenario simulation outputs—namely surface flows and groundwater contribution to stream flows—indicate on average 33% increase in the overall water yield, or 206 hm3/year, across the study watershed when comparing against the baseline conditions. In the same modeling scenario, the water storage in the sub-watersheds adjacent to the reservoirs showed an increase of 58% (or 341 hm3/year). The results indicate that adopting NbS in the source watershed can mitigate the impacts of extreme drought conditions and contribute toward building long-term water security.
Biophysical Benefits Simulation Modeling Framework for Investments in Nature-Based Solutions in São Paulo, Brazil Water Supply System