USGS National Hydrography Requirements and Benefits Study (HRBS)

Contributed By: David S. NailHydroReport
National Map Liaison for IN and KY
US Geological Survey
5957 Lakeside Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46278
Phone: 317-600-2722

The preliminary report of the USGS National Hydrography Requirements and Benefits Study (HRBS) is now available at

Hydrography data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have long been a valuable resource for many organizations. The data have assisted with monitoring water quality and availability, agriculture, flood risk management, environmental health, and coastal processes, among many others. The Hydrography Requirements and Benefits Study (HRBS) was initiated to review and understand current and future user requirements and the associated benefits for improved hydro data. An online questionnaire was completed by over 500 USGS hydrography data users from local, state, federal, and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, academia, and the private sector.

A big THANK YOU! goes to the Indiana state agency contacts who participated in this survey. Through your efforts, details on 420 Mission Critical Activities that rely on hydrographic data were contributed from all 50 States plus 23 Federal agencies. HRBS documented approximately $540 million dollars in current annual benefits being realized through the use of digital hydrographic data, and the potential for over $600 million dollars in new annual benefits. The data collected through the questionnaire have been analyzed and a final report has just been released.

Phase two of HRBS is underway and will include an analysis of return on investment. Multiple program implementation scenarios will be evaluated and their benefit to cost ratios will be analysed. This analysis will lead to a set of recommendations for the program. We have seen the value and success of this approach in developing the 3-Dimensional Elevation Program (3DEP) from the 2011 National Enhanced Elevation Assessment results, and we are confident that similar success will be achieved for hydrography thanks to your help.

For purposes of the survey, hydrographic data include the surface water drainage network with features such as rivers, streams, canals, lakes, ponds, coastline, dams, drainage basins, and streamgages. Questions were asked about hydrographic data and how it relates to other data types such as groundwater, wetlands, soils, and elevation. Other questions are related to requirements for priority areas, data content, quality, and potential benefits.

A link to the full report:

The Indiana section is in appendix C:

Association reports are in appendix D:

– Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) on page D-1
– Ducks Unlimited (DU) on page D-8
– The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on page D-15
– Trout Unlimited (TU) on page D-22.

If you have any questions about how the data will be used or reported, please feel free to contact me or Stephen Aichele at, 717-730-6949.

David Nail


  1. I’m really looking forward to IGIC’s Waters Workgroup diving into this detailed study. Indiana is in a unique position across the United States to evaluate and take action based on this study, thanks to the development of our new statewide Local-Resolution National Hydrography Database that is being completed this month.

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