Through interviews, we determined that the hydrological modeling and monitoring data that we provided was NOT used in designing and implementing the water fund. But counter-intuitively, having done the analysis using complex models and high-resolution data was seen as important for the water fund to be seen as scientifically credible.
So ironically, even though the credible models were not actually used, their existence helped build support for the overall water fund. Despite this, as long as monitoring data was used to calibrate and validate the model, a simpler model (InVEST, as opposed to SWAT) and coarser data resolution (30m, as opposed to 1m) would have met the information needs of the users. We should have had more frank discussions up front with the ultimate users of the information to produce a model seen as credible and actually used, while avoiding over-investment in model complexity that wasn't needed.
You can read the full article here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719358668
Hamel, P., Bremer, L. L., Ponette-González, A. G., Acosta, E., Fisher, J. R. B., Steele, B., … Brauman, K. A. (2020). The value of hydrologic information for watershed management programs: The case of Camboriú, Brazil. Science of The Total Environment, 135871. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135871