Streamer: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why isn’t my local stream included?
  2. Are more detailed streams data available?
  3. I clicked on a stream for an upstream trace but there is a stream highlighted that is downstream from the trace origin point. Why is that?
  4. I clicked on a stream for a downstream trace but there is a stream highlighted that is upstream from the trace origin point. Why is that?
  5. I clicked on one stream but the trace started from a stream nearby. Why does this happen?
  6. Why does a trace stop at an open body of water, such as a wide stream, an estuary, or bay?
  7. I tried to trace upstream from an estuary or bay but nothing happened. Why?
  8. Why does a trace stop at the Canadian or Mexican border?
  9. Why doesn’t my trace go through the Great Lakes?
  10. I found a mistake on the base map. How do I report this?
  11. I encountered a software bug. How do I report this?
  12. I have an idea for improving Streamer. How do I share this?
  13. I clicked on a canal to trace it and nothing happened. Why is that?
  14. I tried to trace by clicking on a lake but nothing happened. Why is that?
  15. Why does my trace make a turn in the middle of a lake?
  16. Can I download the trace as a shapefile or kml file?
  17. Can Streamer delineate the boundaries of a watershed or calculate drainage area?
  18. Is there a geoprocessing service available that will let me trace streams in my own web application?
  19. Where can I get the data used in the trace?
  20. Where can I get the data used in the base maps?
  21. Why does the terrain base map background not show up at some zoom levels in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and The U.S. Virgin Islands?
  22. What gages are included in the map?
  23. What do the colored symbols for the stream gages mean?
  24. What data is included in the Trace Report?
  25. Why are Congressional Districts listed in the Trace Report but not shown in the map?
  26. I clicked on a Congressional District in the Trace Report and the “My Congressional District” web application shows a map of the entire U.S. How do I see a map of my district?
  27. How do I print a trace map?
  28. How do I print a trace report?
  29. How do I save a report or trace map?
  30. How do I email a stream trace to someone?
  31. Are the National Atlas and The National Map the same? In Streamer, why are there references to National Atlas in some places and The National Map in others?

1. Why isn’t my local stream included?
Our streams dataset is produced at a lower level of detail. Its scale is 1:1,000,000 - at which an inch on the display would roughly equal 15.8 miles on the land surface. At this level of detail, we can only include larger streams. Even then, it's possible that only one of several neighboring large streams of similar size was chosen to be included in the dataset.

2. Are more detailed streams data available?
Yes they are. If you are interested in viewing more detailed streams, the U.S. Geological Survey’s interactive National Map Viewer has larger scale data than Streamer. It has a variety of base maps and layers that show hydrographic data. If you are interested in more detailed data for use in a GIS, the National Geospatial Program of the U.S. Geological Survey produces the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) at 1:24,000-scale and larger. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains NHDPlus at 1:100,000-scale. You will need your own mapping or viewing software to use these.

3. I clicked on a stream for an upstream trace but there is a stream highlighted that is downstream from the trace origin point. Why is that?
Streams data used for tracing is broken up into segments. When you click on a stream to start a trace, the entire segment is selected.

4. I clicked on a stream for a downstream trace but there is a stream highlighted that is upstream from the trace origin point. Why is that?
Streams data used for tracing is broken up into segments. When you click on a stream to start a trace, the entire segment is selected.

5. I clicked on one stream but the trace started from a stream nearby. Why does this happen?
When you click on the map it searches for streams within three pixels of where you clicked. If there is more than one stream Streamer will pick one and trace from that stream. You can zoom in closer to make sure you are clicking on the stream you want to use as the trace origin.

6. Why does a trace stop at an open body of water, such as a wide stream, an estuary, or bay?
The streams data only include streams inside the coastline. Sometimes the coastline goes a long way up an estuary.

7. I tried to trace upstream from an estuary or bay but nothing happened. Why?
The streams data used for the trace only exist inside the coastline. Sometimes the coastline goes a long way up an estuary.

8. Why does a trace stop at the Canadian or Mexican border?
The streams data used for tracing only include U.S. streams.

9. Why doesn’t my trace go through the Great Lakes?
The streams data used for the trace stop at the shoreline of the Great Lakes.

10. I found a mistake on the base map. How do I report this?
You can report mistakes on the base maps by emailing us at streamer@usgs.gov.

11. I encountered a software bug. How do I report this?
You can report software bugs by emailing us at streamer@usgs.gov.

12. I have an idea for improving Streamer. How do I share this?
If you have suggestions for improvements please email us at streamer@usgs.gov.

13. I clicked on a canal to trace it and nothing happened. Why is that?
Most of the stream data used for tracing consist of natural rivers and streams. There are a few canals in the streams data but not all of them participate in the traceable network. There are several reasons for this: flow direction could be unavailable, flow direction could be variable, or flow direction could be unknown. There are also some places where canals cross watershed divides, making stream traces very complex. The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) and NHDPlus may be more suitable if you need to trace networks that include canals, pipelines, aqueducts, and other similar features.

14. I tried to trace by clicking on a lake but nothing happened. Why is that?
The stream line that is being traced is hidden under the waterbody feature. Usually it is near the centerline of the waterbody but not always. Try clicking in the center. If that doesn’t work, try clicking at the upstream or downstream edge of the lake. If you clicked on one of the Great Lakes it won’t trace because the streams data used for the trace stop at the shoreline of the Great Lakes.

15. Why does my trace make a turn in the middle of a lake?
There is usually a main stream line that runs through the middle of a waterbody feature. Streams that enter the lake on the sides usually join the main stream line in the middle of the lake. Sometimes this makes it look like there is a sharp turn in the stream trace.

16. Can I download the trace as a shapefile or kml file?
No, not directly from Streamer. However, you can download the streams dataset from the National Atlas website: One Million-Scale Streams of the United States. It is available as a shapefile which can be put in a geometric network and traced. It will soon be available in four regional, networked file geodatabases.

17. Can Streamer delineate the boundaries of a watershed or calculate drainage area?
No, it cannot.

18. Is there a geoprocessing service available that will let me trace streams in my own web application?
No.

19. Where can I get the data used in the trace?
The One Million-Scale Streams of the United States map layer is available from nationalatlas.gov.

20. Where can I get the data used in the base maps?
The base maps were made especially for Streamer. They were created using data from the National Atlas and several other sources. The data were modified for use at multiple scales.

The National Atlas map layers used in the Streamer web application are:

Additional map layers used in Streamer:

ArcGIS map services used in Streamer:

21. Why does the terrain base map background not show up at some zoom levels in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and The U.S. Virgin Islands?
The ESRI World Terrain Base map service is not available at all scales for regions outside the conterminous states. However, the ESRI World Imagery map service is available for these areas at all scales.

22. What gages are included in the map?
The Trace Report Explanation provides a description of which gages are used in Streamer.

23. What do the colored symbols for the stream gages mean?
The different colors represent how the present stream flow compares to historic streamflow for the same day of the year. Orange colors are lower than normal, green is normal, and blues are above the normal flow. The Map Contents tab in the Help Documentation provides a more detailed explanation of the categories as well as where the data come from and how often they are updated.

24. What data is included in the Trace Report?
The Trace Report Explanation provides a list of the data used in the trace report and an explanation of how the trace report is created.

25. Why are Congressional Districts listed in the Trace Report but not shown in the map?
Because the basemaps used in Streamer were created to emphasize hydrographic features, the number of other types of features was kept to a minimum. In addition, some Congressional Districts are too small to show at the map scales used in Streamer.

26. I clicked on a Congressional District in the Trace Report and the “My Congressional District” web application shows a map of the entire U.S. How do I see a map of my district?
Change the state in the State drop list and then change it back to your state. Select a District from the District drop list.

27. How do I print a trace map?
Click the Print Map button and print the map the way you normally print from your browser. In many browsers you will need to go to a toolbar to find a menu with a print option.

28. How do I print a trace report?
Create a report by clicking the Trace Report button and then print the report the way you normally print from your browser. Caution: Some reports may be many pages long. Check the number of pages before you print.

29. How do I save a report or trace map?
One way to save the report or trace map is to choose the print option. Instead of printing, choose the save as PDF option in the print dialog box.

30. How do I email a stream trace to someone?
One way to do this is to create a trace report, copy the Universal Resource Locator (URL) for the report and paste it into an email. When the email recipient pastes the link into their browser they will see the same report, including the trace. Or you can save the report as described above and attach the document to an email.

31. Are the National Atlas and The National Map the same? In Streamer, why are there references to National Atlas in some places and The National Map in others?
The National Atlas of the United States and The National Map are not the same. The National Atlas program was revived in 1997 and will end soon. On September 30, 2014 nationalatlas.gov will be taken offline.

Streamer was developed and delivered by the National Atlas. Streamer assumed a new organizational identity in March 2014 when its first major upgrade occurred. Streamer will have a managerial home within the National Hydrography Dataset of The National Map and will continue to be offered for your use. References to the National Atlas will be phased out after that program ends.


Updated 2/21/2014