Data and Documentation

Photograph of Kootenai FallsThe MSDI Hydrography framework stores networked geometry and attributes representing the surface water in Montana (lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, canals, ditches, etc.). This data is controlled and managed by the USGS, though edits to features within Montana are made by the MSDI Hydrography theme lead (or designate).

MSDI Hydrography Data

The Montana Hydrography dataset is the high resolution (1:24K) NHD in geodatabase and shapefile formats projected to the Montana State Plane Coordinate System.

MSDI Hydrography Web Service

This statewide map service provides viewing and querying access to the hydrography dataset for use in web applications and desktop GIS software.

Hydrography Stewardship and Editing Guide

The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines and a set of procedures for maintaining Montana's Hydrography Dataset.  Hydrography stewardship is a collaborative effort led by the Montana State Library and guided by the Montana Hydrography Working Group.

NHD Database Documentation

For more information on the structure of the NHD Geodatabase, see the NHD User Guide and the database schema version 2.2 (pdf file). The Montana State Libary provides exercise tutorials and presentations or contacts us for assistance or to schedule a training.  We would be glad to help.  Additional documentation and tutorials can be found through the USGS NHD website.


Montana Hydrography Edit Request Viewer

This web map application allows users to view where hydrography dataset edits are being made and to propose (flag) where revisions are needed.

The National Map NHD viewer

The National Map online mapping application is maintained by the USGS. It provides a viewer and download platform to visualize, identify, and download the National Hydrography Dataset, as well as other spatial data, such as elevation, land cover, and structures.


Hydrography includes surface water features such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, canals, and ditches. Hydrography is important to many applications. As with other data themes, many users need hydrographic features as reference or base map data. Other applications, particularly environmentally oriented analyses, need the information for analysis and modeling of water quality, water supply, pollution, flood hazard assessment, fish and wildlife, water rights, development, and land suitability.

The NHD is a comprehensive set of digital spatial data that contain information about surface water features such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, springs and wells. The NHD is the surface water feature data component of the USGS National Map. Within the NHD, surface water features are combined to form "reaches," which provide the framework for linking water-related data to the NHD surface water drainage network. These linkages enable the analysis and display of water-related data in upstream and downstream order.