National Hydrography


The USGS National Geospatial Program manages the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD), and NHDPlus High Resolution (NHDPlus HR). These geospatial datasets represent the surface water of the United States for mapping and modeling applications.

Update National Hydrography with the Markup App

Update National Hydrography with the Markup App

Have a correction or update for the NHD, WBD, or NHDPlus High Resolution? Visit the Markup App!

Access Markup App

NHDPlus HR - the Next Generation of National Hydrography

NHDPlus HR - the Next Generation of National Hydrography

Check out the NHDPlus High Resolution (NHDPlus HR) factsheet

NHDPlus HR Webpage

Access the NHD Newsletter to keep up with the latest Hydrography info

Access the NHD Newsletter to keep up with the latest Hydrography info

Subscribe to and access the National Hydrography Dataset newsletters for updates, information, and the hydro quiz!

Access Newsletters

Hydrography for the Nation

The USGS manages surface water and hydrologic unit mapping for the Nation as geospatial datasets. These include the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD)Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD), and NHDPlus High Resolution (NHDPlus HR). Hydrography data are integral to a myriad of mission critical activities undertaken and managed by government entities (Federal, state, regional, county, local, Tribal), nonprofit organizations, and private companies. Hydrography data make it possible for these groups to, for example:

  • Manage water such as stream flow and stormwater
  • Monitor, manage, and report water quality
  • Assess water availability and water rights
  • Model and map flood risk
  • Conserve terrestrial and aquatic habitats
  • Manage fisheries, rangeland, timberlands, and agricultural lands
  • Assess coastal hazards
  • Plan for future land development activities and infrastructure development
  • Manage riverine and coastal navigation and safety
  • Provide recreational opportunities for citizens

Please see the About National Hydrography Products link for more detailed information on national hydrography products. 

Accessing Hydrography Products

Direct download links and web-based map service information are available from the Access National Hydrography Products page. Downloads via interactive map are available from The National Map Download viewer, and all web-based map services are listed at The National Map Service Endpoints page.

Resources and Tools

Many resources and tools exist to support the National Hydrography Datasets. Tools include the Markup Application to suggest edits, or “markups”, to the NHD, WBD, and NHDPlus HR, as well as the Hydrologic Event Management (HEM) Tool to create, manage, and refresh of event data that is referenced to hydrography data. Tools are also available to stewards to edit and manage NHD and WBD data.

A series of training videos on hydrography and other USGS geospatial data and products are also available.


National Hydrography Datasets are updated and maintained through a strong community of stewards and users who have local knowledge about the streams where they live and work. Edits and updates to the NHD and WBD are made by stewards and processed and made available in the national dataset distribution by the USGS. For more information, please visit the Stewardship and Community link.


The NHD and WBD are managed by the USGS under OMB Circular A-16 and as a part of the FGDC National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) Water-Inland Theme, with collaboration, support, and cost-sharing with many other Federal, state, and local entities. The National Hydrography Infrastructure Working Group (NHI WG) is a forum for Federal agencies with direct involvement in the National Hydrography Infrastructure to provide input and collaborate on the direction, development, priorities, management, technologies, use, and resources of the National Hydrography Infrastructure.

Join Our Community!

We communicate monthly through the NHD Newsletters and Hydrography Community Calls, and hold special seminars and workshops as well. Please visit the National Hydrography Dataset Playlist on the USGS YouTube Channel for recorded Community Calls and the News tab on the left for more detailed information. For questions, please email



September 22, 2021

National Hydrography Dataset Newsletter July/August - Vol. 20 | Issue 7/8

Welcome Readers,

We have big news in this issue with the retirement of Al Rea - he will be missed!

Have something you'd like to share in the newsletter? Email Becci Anderson (

Join the Hydrography Community Call by subscribing to the newsletter. Past recordings are available on the USGS YouTube Channel NHD Playlist and follow The National Map on Twitter - @USGSTNM

Date published: September 21, 2021

Downloadable Hydrography Products Folder Structure – Upcoming Changes

USGS is changing the folder structure of NHD and NHDPlus HR products that are available as downloadable products. Changes to the Staged Products folder structure are necessary to support additional hydrography products and product versions for NHDPlus HR and a future GeoPackage file format that’s currently in development. 

Date published: September 21, 2021

NHD 2.31 and WBD 2.31 Data Models Released – Note Case Changes

NHD 2.31 and WBD 2.31 data models have been released. Please note python code snippet changes.


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Year Published: 2020

Elevation-derived hydrography acquisition specifications

Hydrographic features derived from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 3D Elevation Program data, and collected for use by the USGS, must meet the specifications described in this document. The specifications described herein pertain to the final product delivered to the USGS, not to methods used to derive the hydrographic features. The specifications...

Terziotti, Silvia; Archuleta, Christy-Ann
Terziotti, S., and Archuleta, C.M., 2020, Elevation-Derived Hydrography Acquisition Specifications: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 11, chap. B11, 74 p.,

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Year Published: 2020

Elevation-derived hydrography—Representation, extraction, attribution, and delineation rules

With the increasing availability of 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) quality high resolution elevation data across the United States and the pressing need for better integrated elevation and hydrography data, the U.S. Geological Survey is developing guidance to improve the horizontal and vertical alignment of these datasets. The U.S. Geological Survey...

Archuleta, Christy-Ann; Terziotti, Silvia
Archuleta, C.M., and Terziotti, S., 2020, Elevation-Derived Hydrography—Representation, Extraction, Attribution, and Delineation Rules: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 11, chap. B12, 60 p., 10.3133/ tm11B12.

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Year Published: 2020

NHDPlus High Resolution (NHDPlus HR)---A hydrography framework for the Nation

Reliable and accurate high-resolution mapping of the Nation’s waters are critical inputs to models and decision support systems used to predict risk and enable response to impacts on water resources. It is necessary to know where the water is and how it relates to features beyond the stream network like forests, cities, and infrastructure. An up-...

Buto, Susan G.; Anderson, Rebecca D.
Buto, S.G., and Anderson, R.D., 2020, NHDPlus High Resolution (NHDPlus HR)---A hydrography framework for the Nation: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2020-3033, 2 p.,