The National Hydrography Dataset

Fact Sheet 106-99




The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) is a newly combined dataset that provides hydrographic data for the United States. The NHD is the culmination of recent cooperative efforts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). It combines elements of USGS digital line graph (DLG) hydrography files and the USEPA Reach File (RF3). The NHD supersedes RF3 and DLG files by incorporating them, not by replacing them. Users of RF3 or DLG files will find the same data in a new, more flexible format. They will find that the NHD is familiar but greatly expanded and refined. The DLG files contribute a national coverage of millions of features, including water bodies such as lakes and ponds, linear water features such as streams and rivers, and also point features such as springs and wells. These files provide standardized feature types, delineation, and spatial accuracy. From RF3, the NHD acquires hydrographic sequencing, upstream and downstream navigation for modeling applications, and reach codes. The reach codes provide a way to integrate data from organizations at all levels by linking the data to this nationally consistent hydrographic network. The feature names are from the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The NHD provides comprehensive coverage of hydrographic data for the United States. Some of the anticipated end-user applications of the NHD are multiuse hydrographic modeling and water-quality studies of fish habitats. Although based on 1:100,000-scale data, the NHD is planned so that it can incorporate and encourage the development of the higher resolution data that many users require. The NHD can be used to promote the exchange of data between users at the national, State, and local levels. Many users will benefit from the NHD and will want to contribute to the dataset as well.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
The National Hydrography Dataset
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
Year Published:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
U.S. Geological Survey
2 p.