Introducing the NHDPlus High Resolution: A new framework for water-related information

Release Date:

Great strides made toward a national hydrography framework with release of the initial USGS NHDPlus High Resolution datasets.

The USGS has released the first NHDPlus High Resolution (NHDPlus HR) datasets in Beta version. The NHDPlus Beta is available for Hydrologic Regions 1, 2, 6, 12, 14, 15 and 16 covering a quarter of the area of conterminous United States.  NHDPlus HR Beta production and release will continue on a regional basis through 2018 for the conterminous U.S., followed by Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories. Users are invited to review the Beta version datasets, and the feedback will be used to update and improve subsequent NHDPlus HR dataset releases.

NHDPlus HR Hydrologic Regions Map
Graphic to illustrate the NHDPlus High Resolution Beta availability for Hydrologic Regions 1, 2, 6, 12, 14, 15 and 16 cover over a quarter of the area of the conterminous United States.(Public domain.)

The NHDPlus HR is a scalable geospatial hydrography framework built from high resolution National Hydrography Dataset, nationally complete Watershed Boundary Dataset, and ⅓ arc-second (10 meter ground spacing) 3D Elevation Program data.  The NHDPlus HR brings modeling and assessment down to a local, neighborhood level, while nesting seamlessly into the national context.

Like the NHDPlus version 2, the NHDPlus HR is comprised of a nationally seamless network of stream reaches, elevation-based catchment areas, flow surfaces, and value-added attributes that enhance stream network navigation, analysis, and data display. However, users will find that the NHDPlus HR, which will increase the number of features nationally from three million in the NHDPlus Version 2 to over 30 million, provides richer, more current content that can be used at a variety of scales.

The NHDPlus HR framework extends the hydrologic network seamlessly across the terrain by including not only streams, but also associated catchment areas that drain to each stream segment. This association allows information about the landscape to be related to the stream network. Observational data on the stream network, such as water quality samples, streamgage measurements, or fish distribution, can also be linked to the framework.  Together, the framework and linked data can support a limitless range and type of applications, for example:

  • Predicting the risk, timing, and magnitude of flood events
  • Estimating when and where an event such as a toxic spill will affect downstream populations and ecosystems
  • Enabling riparian property owners to better understand upstream invasive species threats

When completed, the NHDPlus HR will provide a common framework that is open and accessible for use by everyone, including government, citizens, and industry.  It will be the geospatial framework supporting the Open Water Data Initiative, which seeks to integrate currently fragmented water information into a connected national water data infrastructure to underpin innovation, modeling, data sharing, and solution development.

NHDPlus HR Beta is available from the USGS Hydrography website and The National Map Download viewer.  Information and product details about the NHDPlus HR, including the Beta release, production schedules, and review process, are available on the NHDPlus HR informational page on the USGS Hydrography website.  Please contact nhd@usgs.gov directly to participate in the NHDPlus HR Beta review process.

Graphic of Mount Washington, announcing NHDPlus High Resolution
(Public domain.)