U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Toolbox — A Graphical and Mapping Interface for Analysis of Hydrologic Data

Techniques and Methods 4-D3
Water Availability and Use Science Program
By: , and 



The Hydrologic Toolbox is a Windows-based desktop software program that provides a graphical and mapping interface for analysis of hydrologic time-series data with a set of widely used and standardized computational methods. The software combines the analytical and statistical functionality provided in the U.S. Geological Survey Groundwater and Surface-Water Toolboxes and provides several enhancements to these programs. The main analytical methods are the computation of hydrologic-frequency statistics such as the 7-day minimum flow that occurs on average only once every 10 years (7Q10); the computation of design flows, including biologically based flows; the computation of flow-duration curves and duration hydrographs; eight computer-programming methods for hydrograph separation of a streamflow time series, including the Base-Flow Index (BFI), HYSEP, PART, and SWAT Bflow methods and Eckhardt’s two-parameter digital-filtering method; and the RORA recession-curve displacement method and associated RECESS program to estimate groundwater-recharge values from streamflow data. Several of the statistical methods provided in the Hydrologic Toolbox are used primarily for computation of critical low-flow statistics. The Hydrologic Toolbox also facilitates retrieval of streamflow and groundwater-level time-series data from the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Information System and outputs text reports that describe their analyses.

The Hydrologic Toolbox was developed by use of the DotSpatial geographic information system (GIS) programming library, which is part of the MapWindow project. DotSpatial is a nonproprietary, open-source program written for the .NET framework that includes a spatial data viewer and GIS capabilities. Advantages of the DotSpatial system include its pure .NET implementation for both the user interface and the GIS mapping engine, and thus the DotSpatial system simplifies software deployment and installation. In addition to combining the functionality of the separate Groundwater and Surface-Water Toolboxes, the Hydrologic Toolbox also organizes the functionality by theme (Groundwater Tools, Surface-Water Tools, and general Time-Series Tools).

This report provides a description of how to build a Hydrologic Toolbox project and to download and manage hydrologic time-series data. It includes an overview of the analytical and statistical capabilities of the Hydrologic Toolbox and highlights the primary differences between the Hydrologic Toolbox and the Groundwater and Surface-Water Toolboxes. The report supplements information available in an extensive online Help manual and is intended to provide a set of instructions that will allow users to quickly develop skills to use the mapping, data-retrieval, and computational tools of the program.

Suggested Citation

Barlow, P.M., McHugh, A.R., Kiang, J.E., Zhai, T., Hummel, P., Duda, P., and Hinz, S., 2022, U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Toolbox — A graphical and mapping interface for analysis of hydrologic data: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 4, chap. D3, 23 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm4D3.

ISSN: 2328-7055 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Building, Saving, and Reopening a Hydrologic Toolbox Project
  • Downloading, Opening, and Managing Data
  • Time-Series Tools
  • Groundwater (GW) Tools
  • Surface-Water (SW) Tools
  • Summary
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Toolbox — A graphical and mapping interface for analysis of hydrologic data
Series title Techniques and Methods
Series number 4-D3
DOI 10.3133/tm4D3
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New England Water Science Center
Description Report: vi, 23 p.; Software release
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Book 4, Hydrologic Analysis and Interpretation
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details