Surface runoff and accelerated erosion in a peri-urban wellhead area in southeastern Brazil
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Degradation of hydrological conditions can adversely impact water resource quality and quantity. This degradation can generate social and economic losses, including losses for users outside the basin area. Therefore, studies focusing on surface runoff and accelerated erosion processes are needed to enable interventions that address degradation-induced challenges. In the present study, the surface runoff and accelerated erosion potential of the Feijao River basin were presented in charts at a 1: 50,000 scale. The Feijao River basin has an area of 243.16 km(2) and is used as the main water source for the city of Sao Carlos, Brazil. Geoenvironmental attributes, such as substrate, climate, relief, soil, water bodies and land cover and use, were integrated and assessed in a GIS environment, using a multicriteria analysis and weighted sum tool. The results show that a large part of the area (86.12% of the basin) exhibits a low surface runoff potential and a moderate accelerated erosion potential. Accelerated erosive processes are triggered by changes in soil cover and have a direct relationship with the removal of existing vegetation and implementation of anthropogenic activities. In this case, as well as for most of the areas in southeastern Brazil, extensive grazing followed by sugar cane cultivation was the main driving force of erosion, acting as trigger for accelerated erosive processes at the water source area.