MSDI Hydrography

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 designee).

The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) has been retired and will be replaced by the USGS 3D Hydrography Program (3DHP).  The data download below provides the final snapshot of the NHD, 12/27/2023.

Data and Documentation

MSDI Hydrography Data

The Montana Hydrography dataset is the high resolution (1:24K) National Hydrography Dataset in geodatabase and shapefile formats projected to the Montana State Plane Coordinate System.  View an interactive web map of the data here.

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. 

NHD Database Documentation

For more information on the structure of the NHD Geodatabase, see the  NHD User Guide and the  database schema version 2.3.1. The Montana State Library 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.



The National Map Advanced 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.