How should USGS National Hydrography datasets and services be cited?

The USGS does not require a specific format when citing our datasets, but a few suggestions and examples are below.

Citation for Datasets

  • Author: U.S. Geological Survey

  • Release date: the first four numbers of <pubdate> from dataset metadata for the year of the release date. For example, if the <pubdate> is 20190426, the year 2019.

  • Title: depending on the dataset, either National Hydrography Dataset, Watershed Boundary Dataset, or National Hydrography Dataset Plus High Resolution

  • Version: <title> from dataset metadata

  • Access information: date accessed and URL for webpage used to access the data

Dataset example:

U.S. Geological Survey, 2019, National Hydrography Dataset (ver. USGS National Hydrography Dataset Best Resolution (NHD) for Hydrologic Unit (HU) 4 - 2001 (published 20191002)), accessed October 23, 2019 at URL


Citation for Web services

Web service example:

U.S. Geological Survey, 2019, USGS TNM Hydrography (NHD), accessed June 7, 2019 at URL

Related Content

Filter Total Items: 5

What sources were used to produce the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD)?

The NHD is a combination of USGS hydrologic digital line graph (DLG) files and EPA reach files, version 3.0 (RF3). Also used were: U.S. Forest Service Cartographic Feature Files (CFF) and USGS Tagged Vector Hydro (TVH) captured from 7.5-minute printed maps. Some states also contributed their own stream layer data to the compilation of the 1:24,000...

What is the positional accuracy of the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD)?

Original hydrographic data were compiled to meet National Map Accuracy standards . These standards have been maintained in the process of creating the NHD. At 1:100,000 scale, ninety percent of well-defined features are within 167 feet (0.02 inches at map scale) of their true geographic position. When higher resolution data are created and...

In what scale are the data in the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD)?

For the conterminous United States, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands, medium and high resolution NHD data are available at 1:100,000 and 1:24,000-scale, respectively. NHD data are available for Puerto Rico at 1:20,000-scale, and at 1:63,360-scale in Alaska. Users are encouraged to work with their state's principal steward to produce and submit data...

What are available download formats for hydrography data products?

Hydrography data are offered in Esri File Geodatabase 10.1 or Shapefile formats. NHD data is available as State extracts, 4-digit sub-regions, 8-digit sub-basins, or in a specified extent from The National Map Download Client . A national extent of medium and high resolution NHD in File Geodatabase format is also available at this site by browsing...

How do I download hydrography data products?

Hydrography data can be downloaded by using The National Map Download Client or from ftp sites that contains Pre-staged data. For directions go to the Interactive Tutorials folder in the NHD User Guide located at the USGS Hydrography Web site. Information on hydrography data available through The National Map download client can be found on the...
Filter Total Items: 4
Date published: October 23, 2019

USGS Digital Elevation Models (DEM) Switching to New Distribution Format

In support of ongoing efforts to provide efficient, cloud ready, open data formats, the U.S. Geological Survey National Geospatial Program is announcing plans to migrate its 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) Digital Elevation Models (DEM) to a new data delivery format called Cloud Optimized Geotiff (COG) during the first half of fiscal year 2020.

Date published: February 7, 2019

USGS 3DEP Lidar Point Cloud Now Available as Amazon Public Dataset

The USGS 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) is excited to announce the availability of a new way to access and process lidar point cloud data from the 3DEP repository.

Date published: July 27, 2017

Exploring the Nation's waterways through the National Hydrography Dataset Plus

Interested in finding a good river to float down this hot summer? Or a favorite fishing hole? Ever wonder where those blue lines mapping the rivers, streams and lakes on the US Topo and other maps come from?

Date published: April 20, 2017

National Hydrography Dataset / Watershed Boundary Dataset Map Service Improvement

As part of an ongoing effort to improve the suite of hydrography web-based map services, the USGS will separate the services for the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) and Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD).

Filter Total Items: 5
February 5, 2019

Lesson 15b: NHDPlus HR

This lesson will provide a brief overview of the National Hydrography Dataset, Watershed Boundary Dataset and 3D Elevation program. This lesson will also discuss NHDPlus and introduce NHDPlus high resolution and tell you how to get the data.

Alask Mat-su Watershed Relief and Hydrography
May 24, 2018

Alaska Mat-Su Watershed

This graphic shows the extent of the Mat-Su Watershed and displays the terrain and hydrography of the basin.

May 23, 2017

Hydrography Seminar Series - Session 9 (NHDPlus HR)

The USGS Hydrography Seminar Series shares success stories from users, provides information on the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD), NHDPlus High Resolution (NHDPlus HR), and other related products, and provides a forum for users to learn more about hydrography-related topics. Seminar 9 is an overview of the NHDPlus HR.

Screenshot from NHD Seminar 6 Presentation showing Terrain Catchments
January 21, 2016

Screenshot from NHD Seminar 6 Presentation

Screenshot from NHD Seminar 6 Presentation

July 8, 2015

Using The National Map Web Services in ArcMap

Lesson 5: Using The National Map Web Services in ArcMap - This video provides an overview and demonstrates how to use The National Map's web services in a mapping application.