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December 23, 2021

The USGS is excited to announce the release of the GeoPackage format for all downloadable products, including the NHD, WBD, and NHDPlus High Resolution.

What is GeoPackage?

GeoPackage is an “open, standards-based, platform-independent, portable, self-describing, compact format for transferring geospatial information”. The USGS has chosen to distribute downloadable data in the GeoPackage format in support of the OPEN Government Data Act and Geospatial Data Act, which require government data to be available in an open format and to use open and international standards when possible. GeoPackage data is platform agnostic and can be utilized by a variety of commercial off the shelf and open-source software packages.


What are the Changes?

Over the next few months, users will notice changes to the Hydrography downloadable data folder structure as new GeoPackage data is populated.


Major Differences between the Geodatabase and GeoPackage formats.

Entity Geodatabase GeoPackage
Feature Class Supported Supported
Feature Dataset Supported Not Supported
Table Supported Supported
Relationship Classes Supported Not Supported
Coded Value Domains Supported Not Supported
Geometric Network Supported Not Supported
Changes related to the GeoPackage format include:
  1. All attributes with coded value domains will have a new attribute added. The new attribute will be the name of the attribute plus “_description”. 
    • The existing attribute will contain the integer value (the coded-value).
    • The new attribute will contain the domain description text from the coded-value domain.
  2. No attribute aliases from file Geodatabase products will be included.
    • Attribute names will be lowercase.
  3. Geometric networks will not exist on NHD HU4 or HU8 products.
  4. Relationship classes are not supported in the GeoPackage format, users can create these manually if they wish.
  5. Feature datasets will not exist on GeoPackage hydrography format products.


When Will These Changes Take Place?

GeoPackage products will be released in two phases. We expect to release phase 1 data in early 2022, with phase 2 occurring a few months after. During phase 1, HU4, HU8, and state products will be released in the GeoPackage format. During phase 2, the national products will be produced.

There are no changes to the file Geodatabase or shapefile products.


*Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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