There are many national hydrography applications, including Hydrologic Modeling, Enviromental Protection, Resources Management, Mapping, Emergency Response, WBD Application, and HEM Applications.

Browse topics below or go directly to a category listed:


Hydrologic Modeling

StreamStats- Stream Network Navigation

StreamStats version 4 is a Web application that provides access to an assortment of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analytical tools that are useful for water-resources planning and management, and for engineering and design purposes. The map-based user interface can be used to delineate drainage areas for user-selected sites on streams, and then get basin characteristics and estimates of flow statistics for the selected sites anywhere this functionality is available. StreamStats users also can select the locations of U.S. Geological Survey data-collection stations, shown as triangles on the StreamStats map, and get flow statistics and other information for the stations. The types of flow statistics that are available vary from State to State. A variety of tools additional are available for discovering information about streams and the activities along them.  Visit the StreamStats User Interface and access the StreamStats Users' Manual.


Vermont Flow-Frequency Tool

The USGS in cooperation with the Vermont Agency of Transportation developed this NHD-based tool to automate the calculation of basin characteristics required by flow-frequency equations that estimate peak-flow frequency and flow duration.



Between 1996 and 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and other federal, state and local agencies collaborated to produce the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), a comprehensive set of digital geospatial data about surface water features such as streams, rivers and lakes. These data can be used by water quality managers to make maps, perform upstream/downstream queries, and link other water-related information to the NHD network.

In 2006, this interagency collaboration produced NHDPlus, a suite of application-ready geospatial products that build upon, and extend, the capabilities of the medium-resolution NHD. NHDPlus integrates the NHD with the National Elevation Dataset (NED) and the Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD). It includes an enhanced NHD stream network with improved names, value-added attributes (such as stream order), incremental drainage areas with landscape characteristics, and flow volume and velocity estimates for pollutant dilution modeling. EPA and USGS have linked many water quality databases to NHDPlus, including stream gaging stations, water quality monitoring sites, and impaired waters, enabling these databases to be queried and analyzed in upstream/downstream order. NHDPlus greatly enhances the ability of researchers and water quality managers to analyze and model water quality data. For more information on NHDPlus, visit NHDPlus in WATERS from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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Enviromental Protection

WATERS (Watershed Assessment, Tracking & Environmental ResultS) unites water quality information that was previously available only from several independent and unconnected databases.

EPA gathers water quality information to address public concerns such as:

  • How healthy is my watershed?
  • Can I drink the water?
  • Can I eat the fish?
  • Is it safe to swim in the water?

MyWATERS Mapper dynamically displays snapshots of EPA Office of Water program data. This version of MyWATERS Mapper depicts the status of NPDES permits for each State; summary information from the Clean Watershed Needs Survey; and water quality assessments. Future versions will include other Office of Water Program Snapshots. MyWATERS Mapper also contains water-related geographic themes such as 12-digit watersheds, the national stream network known as the National Hydrography Dataset, and other water-related map layers. MyWATERS Mapper enables you to create customized maps at national and local scales.

For more information, visit USEPA Waters.


New England SPARROW

This NHD-based version of the USGS SPARROW water-quality model aids the development of regional nutrient water-quality criteria and total maximum daily loads (TMDL) for New England streams.

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Resources Management


The State of California Division of Water Rights Electronic Water Rights Information Management System (eWRIMS) is a computer database developed by the State Water Resources Control Board to track information on water rights in California. eWRIMS contains information on water right permits and licenses that have been issued by the State Water Resources Control Board and its predecessors.

eWRIMS consists of both a tabular database and an integrated geographic information system (GIS). You can search eWRIMS data by several criteria, including the water right owner's name, watershed, stream system, and county. After you have executed a water right search, you can plot the results. The GIS will visually display the point(s) of diversion for each of the water rights that matched your search criteria. In the GIS, you can view important information about each water right that you've selected.

For more information, visit California State Water Resources Control Board.

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US Topo

The NHD is the surface water component of the National Map. Hydrographic layers on topographic mapping are important because not only do water features provide important landmarks, but they also are important in defining topography. The NHD includes datasets covering all streams and lakes at scales of 1:24,000 and 1:100,000. In some areas, the NHD is being supplemented with data larger than 1:24,000-scale. The NHD provides a true network that supports the analysis of any type of movement (navigation, sediment transport, effluent dispersion, for example) by surface waters.

For more information see the USGS USTopo product.

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Emergency Response

Incident Command Tool for Protecting Drinking Water

According to the paper "Using NHD in the Incident Command Information Tool" by William B Samuels and Douglas Ryan, the Incident Command Tool "integrates multiple sources of information to give decision makers concise summaries of current conditions and forecasts of future consequences of terrorist acts on public water supply safety." This tool uses 1:100,000 scale NHD.

For More information read "Using NHD in the Incident Command Information Tool" by William B. Samuels and Douglas Ryan.

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WBD Applications/ HEM Applications

Analyzing Legacy U.S. Geological Survey Geochemical Databases Using GIS—Applications for a National Mineral Resource Assessment

This report emphasizes geographic information system analysis and the display of data stored in the legacy U.S. Geological Survey National Geochemical Database for use in mineral resource investigations. Geochemical analyses of soils, stream sediments, and rocks that are archived in the National Geochemical Database provide an extensive data source for investigating geochemical anomalies. A study area in the Egan Range of east-central Nevada was used to develop a geographic information system analysis methodology for two different geochemical datasets involving detailed (Bureau of Land Management Wilderness) and reconnaissance-scale (National Uranium Resource Evaluation) investigations. ArcGIS was used to analyze and thematically map geochemical information at point locations. Watershed-boundary datasets served as a geographic reference to relate potentially anomalous sample sites with hydrologic unit codes at varying scales. The National Hydrography Dataset was analyzed with Hydrography Event Management and ArcGIS Utility Network Analyst tools to delineate potential sediment-sample provenance along a stream network. These tools can be used to track potential upstream-sediment-contributing areas to a sample site. This methodology identifies geochemically anomalous sample sites, watersheds, and streams that could help focus mineral resource investigations in the field.

Citation: Yager, D.B., Hofstra, A.H., and Granitto, Matthew, 2012, Analyzing legacy U.S. Geological Survey geochemical databases using GIS—Applications for a national mineral resource assessment: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 11–C5, 28 p.

ArcHydro on the Seafloor: Hydrologic Tools for Morphologic Analysis of the Atlantic Margin.

A newly compiled bathymetric terrain model (BTM) covering 330,000 km2 of the seafloor along the Atlantic Margin between Georges Bank and the Blake Plateau was analyzed using the standard terrestrial techniques within ArcHydro Tools. Multibeam sonar depth data from 28 surveys was compiled to produce a 100-m BTM; providing the first detailed view of the entire continental shelf, slope, and rise off the East coast of the United States. Watershed analysis was used to subdivide the BTM into 13 watersheds that were named for the major shelf-breaching canyons within each watershed. Drainage lines and geometric networks were constructed for all canyons using ArcHydro Tools; providing a framework to investigate along-margin variation in submarine canyon morphology and channel density. Drainage Inlet points were calculated for each of the 13 watersheds. Baltimore Canyon Watershed (Fig. 1) had a total of 1201 inlet points. Our analysis required tracing downstream from only those inlet points (249) that were at or near the shelf edge (~2400 m depth). The “Convert Points to Flags/Barriers” function within HEM Tools was used to convert only these selected points (Highlighted in Fig 1) to Flags and then trace downstream. This produced a drainage network for only the canyon heads and eliminated the secondary drainage systems downstream.

Citation: Andrews, B.D., and Brothers, D.S. 2012. ArcHydro on the Seafloor: Hydrologic Tools for Morphologic Analysis of the Atlantic Margin. Presented at 2012 AWRA Spring Specialty Conference GIS & Water Resources VII, New Orleans, LA. 26-28 March 2012.

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