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National Hydrography Dataset

The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), a component of The National Map, represents the water drainage network of the United States with features such as rivers, streams, canals, lakes, ponds, coastline, dams, and streamgages. The NHD is the surface water component on the US Topo map product produced by the USGS. These data, in digital vector geographic information system (GIS) format, are designed to be used in general mapping and in the analysis of surface water systems.

NHD High and Medium Resolution Datasets

The most current version of the National Hydrography Dataset, the NHD High Resolution, is mapped at a scale of 1:24,000 scale or better (1:63,360 or better in Alaska). These data are updated and maintained through Stewardship partnerships with states and other collaborative bodies. The NHD High Resolution, along with the Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD) and 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) data, is used to create the NHDPlus High Resolution.

The NHD Medium Resolution, mapped at 1:100,000 scale, is no longer maintained by the USGS, but information on its history and how to download the data is available on the NHD Medium Resolution page.

NHD High Resolution Downloads and Map Services

The NHD High Resolution can be downloaded directly from links or via web map viewer as a file geodatabase or shapefile. The NHD High Resolution can also be accessed through web-based map services. Descriptions of the map services are available on the Links to Data Products and Map Services page.

The file geodatabase download maintains the richness of the NHD complex database model, including multiple feature datasets, feature classes, event feature classes, attribute tables, relationship classes, domains, and feature-level metadata. The shapefile download simplifies this structure by containing all of the feature classes as separate shapefiles and tables as separate data files.

Please visit the NHD Medium Resolution page for information on downloading 1:100,000 scale NHD data.

NHD Data Model Overview

The NHD file geodatabase download contains NHD data in the Hydrography feature dataset. It also includes the WBD in a second feature dataset.

NHD Line features

NHDFlowline is the fundamental flow network consisting predominantly of stream/river and artificial path vector features. It represents the spatial geometry, carries the attributes, and contains linear referencing measures for locating features or “events” on the network. Additional NHDFlowline features are canal/ditch, pipeline, connector, underground conduit, and coastline.

NHDLine contains linear features not core to the network.

NHD Area features

Waterbodies such as lake/pond features are represented in NHDWaterbody. They portray the spatial geometry and the attributes of the feature. These water polygons may have NHDFlowline artificial paths drawn through them to allow the representation of water flow direction. Other NHDWaterbody features are swamp/marsh, reservoir, playa, estuary, and ice mass.

NHDArea contains many additional water-polygon features. One of the more important is the stream/river feature. It represents the areal extent of the water in a wide stream/river with a basic set of attributes. These polygons typically encompass NHDFlowline artificial paths that represent the stream network. Artificial path carries the critical attributes of the stream/river, whereas NHDArea represents the geometric extent.

NHD Point features

NHDPoint contains hydrography related point features.

NHD Events

NHDPointEventFC, NHDLineEventFC, and NHDAreaEventFC represent point, line, and area data events that behave as map features and linearly referenced events. Streamgages, which are point features, can be displayed and identified in the network through linear referencing with a network address.

NHD Tables

Information about the NHD also can be obtained in a series of associated tables. This includes metadata stored in NHDFeaturetoMetadata and NHDMetadata, sources given in NHDSourceCitation, identification of model and data version given in NHDProcessingParameters, flow relations given in NHDFlow, reach code histories given in NHDReachCrossReference, the domain of feature codes given in NHDFCode, and others.

Some of the files on this page are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Acrobat Reader, free of charge.

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Last modified: Thursday, 03-Aug-2017 18:17:36 EDT