Rivers, Lakes, and Streams Data

The most common source of hydrography (rivers, streams, lakes) data in Wisconsin is the Wisconsin DNR’s “24k hydro” database.  The DNR 24k hydro dataset is the most common starting place for most users in the state.  Because the DNR data are limited to Wisconsin, users who need entire watersheds that cross the state border should investigate the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey.


The Wisconsin DNR maintains an extensive statewide hydrography dataset for the state of Wisconsin.  This includes a variety of sub-features, such as streambanks, water bodies, rivers, and flow.  The database was originally derived from 1:24,000 scale source information, and is thus dubbed the “24K hydro” dataset.


Some local governments in Wisconsin produce their own water features, commonly in conjunction with other planimetric mapping projects.  The nature of these locally-produced hydro products vary considerably by jurisdiction.


The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) is used to portray surface water of the United States.  The NHD represents the national drainage network with features such as rivers, streams, canals, lakes, ponds, coastline, dams, and streamgages.

Last updated: February 1, 2024