Download the U.S. National Hydrography Dataset

nhd_splash“The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) is the surface water component of The National Map. The NHD is a comprehensive set of digital spatial data representing the surface water of the United States using common features such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, canals, and oceans. These data are designed to be used in general mapping and in the analysis of surface-water systems using geographic information systems (GIS). In mapping, the NHD is used with other data themes such as elevation, boundaries, and transportation to produce general reference maps. Customized maps can be made to meet specific needs of the user by emphasizing certain aspects of the data. A map emphasizing hydrography can be produced by displaying more of the content embedded in hydrography.

“The NHD often is used by scientists, specifically in surface-water analysis using GIS technology. This takes advantage of a rich set of embedded attributes that can be processed by a computer system to generate specialized information. This information can then be portrayed in specialized maps to better understand the results. These analyses of hydrography are possible largely because the NHD contains a flow direction network that traces the water downstream or upstream. It also uses an addressing system to link specific information about the water such as water discharge, water quality, and fish population. Using the basic water features, flow network, linked information, and other characteristics, it is possible to study cause and affect relations, such as how a source of poor water quality upstream might affect a fish population downstream.”