Information Resources and Technology Management


You are invited to read the definitions of terms used in this data standard.

Name Hydrography (DLG)
The data consists of digital information input by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) depicting streams, rivers, and related types of features. Although these data now exist in Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS), as well as Digital Line Graph (DLG) format, they are still called DLG data. The data are available on the Internet, free-of-charge, or on inexpensive CD's. The CD's contain 1:100,000- and 1:2,000,000-scale data in DLG format, available nationally. The 1:24,000-scale data on the Internet  is available only in SDTS format. While it is not yet completed nationally, work is in progress.
USGS EROS Data Center is the source for 1:100,000-scale data in DLG format.
SDTS information for USGS data available in SDTS format. 
Historical Data For information on past versions of this standard, contact the Chief Data Officer

Part 270, FW 6, Data Management and Standards, has been superceded by Part 274, FW 2, Establishing Service Data Standards.

The SDTS Information Site - includes documentation, FAQ's, and data pointers.

Use Instructions
The USGS Hydrography data layer in DLG format should be used wherever it is available in an appropriate scale and with current information. Other supplementary data may be needed if the USGS data is old or not in the large-scale format. In many parts of the country, TIGER data at the 1:24:000- scale may be a good alternative. The attribute data in the Tools section below will increase the usefulness of the DLG attribute data by making it easier to associate more information with the base DLG file.

Hydrography data is often used as a reference GIS layer, but may be used in analysis as well. Future plans for this data set by USGS include upgrading the data set to include all the River Reach information supplied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Links to existing data will be established, so it is important to use the standard Hydrography data whenever possible, in order to take advantage of the planned increases in data functionality. Tools for utilizing the current DLG format data are listed below.

Limitations: Data should always be used at the scale appropriate to the application. The USGS makes every effort to achieve a high level of accuracy in all of its published products. An important aim of its accuracy control program is to meet the U.S. National Map Accuracy Standards. These standards vary with scale; for example, 1:24,000-scale data will be much more spatially accurate than data at the 1:100,000-scale. If the degree of precision is very important to the application, check the above reference to make sure the data being used are appropriate.


Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS) - There are some tools now available to convert Hydrography data in the SDTS format into other formats. Some of the tools work for the line, as well as the polygon, coverage; others only work on the line data.

Phase Adopted
Approval Date January 14, 1999
Validation Date January 28, 2011
Data Steward Chief Data Officer


Last updated: May 9, 2019