LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

Choose a Map
Select an interactive map to visualize information about a specific topic or area of interest, and make your own map.
Get GIS Data
Find and download the geospatial data that DNR uses to make its maps.

Surface water (hydrography) data

Historically, the Wisconsin DNR Hydrography geospatial data layer has been stored and managed in ArcInfo coverage format with annual, updated releases provided to the user community as shapefiles. However, in recent years the DNR has adopted a more robust spatial data storage format called geodatabase for managing the hydrography GIS layer. In 2011, the DNR completed converting the Hydrography coverage to the advanced geodatabase model.

What's new in the hydrography geodatabase?

For a listing of added water features, updated water feature geometries, and updated or removed existing water geometries as reflected in the newest version of the geodatabase, see the 24k Hydro Updates document [PDF 110KB].

Note: For these as well as previous update details, see Appendix E of the Getting Started with WDNR 24K Hydrography Geodatabase document [PDF 943KB].

Geodatabase specifications

Coordinate system (map projection)

The Hydrography data layer is managed in the DNR's standard coordinate referencing system: Wisconsin Transverse Mercator (WTM) based on the 1991 adjustment to the North American Datum of 1983 - WTM83, NAD83(1991). Linear measures are in meters. Area measurements are in square meters.

Coordinate precision

The Hydrography geodatabase is stored using a high precision spatial reference.


The Hydrography geodatabase is approximately 418 Megabytes in size.

Geodatabase documentation

Data sources

The DNR Hydrography database was developed statewide using several 1:24,000-scale sources. This data layer includes information about surface water features represented on the USGS 1:24,000-scale topographic map series such as perennial and intermittent streams, lakes, etc. Because the sources of the Hydrography data span many years and originate from several sources, the data may reflect areas of transition from one source to another. As a result, the water features as represented in the Hydrography data may not always match what you see on a particular USGS quad or Digital Raster Graphic (DRG). General source information is presented on this map: Wisconsin Hydrography Source Information.

A large portion of the Agency's Water Body Identification Codes (WBICs) have been incorporated into the Hydrography layer, along with surface water names from the USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database.

Note: Wetlands delineations are not included in the DNR Hydrography data layer. For information about DNR Wetlands data, see the Wisconsin Wetland Inventory web page.

How to access the hydrography geodatabase

DNR staff can access the Hydrography geodatabase in the agency's Central GIS data repository. The Hydrography feature classes are stored in the feature data set "W23324.WD_HYDRO_DATA_24K". DNR Region staff may find it best to export the geodatabase to their local server for performance reasons. Instructions on how to access, export and use the geodatabase are provided in the Getting Started with WDNR 24K Hydrography Geodatabase [PDF 927KB].

Users external to the DNR Open Data Portal at using keyword 24K Hydro. Users can either download individual files for shorelines, flowlines, and waterbodies, or download the full geodatabase. The "Getting Started..." guide is available on the "24k Hydro Full Geodatabase for Download" page.

Note: DNR staff that need access to the Geometric Network, please contact Dennis Wiese.

Reporting hydrography errors

If you find any issues with the Hydrography data, please report them via email to Dennis Wiese ( ) with the following information:

  • Required
    • HYDROID of the feature in question; OR if the feature is missing, a location coordinate or description (i.e.,latitude/longitude or WTM coordinate, or Public Land Survey System Township, Range and Section identifier) that identifies the area in question.
    • A brief description of the issue and requested modification.
  • Optional (but very useful)
    • A screen capture of the area containing the feature(s) involved in the request
    • The Water Body Identification Code (WBIC) of the feature in question
Last revised: Thursday November 02 2017