National shapefile for water areas


I’m working on a national mapping project and would like to make a census tract shapefile for the county that has water boundaries clipped to the shore line. To my knowledge, there isn’t one of these available. So, I’m wondering if there is a national shapefile for water areas. That way I can join it with a census tract file to remove all the water areas so maps look better. I’ve done this for local areas, but I plan to make maps across the country, so I figure doing it once for the whole country will be easier.


NHGIS doesn’t supply shapefiles for water areas at this time, and I don’t know of any other source of nationwide shapefiles of TIGER-based water areas. We have plans to begin providing this type of data through NHGIS in the future, but there’s no definite date for that yet.

Anyway, thanks for the inquiry. Hearing about user needs always helps guide us in prioritizing new features!

Bummer, but thanks for the quick reply Jonathan, as always! There’s not a national census tract file with its boundaries clipped to the shoreline, is there?

Anyways, I created a national water areas shapefile from the geodatabase file I found on the census website. But put me down as a vote for a national tract boundary clipped at the shoreline using the water area areas from NHGIS.

Thanks. Kasey

There’s not a national census tract file with its boundaries clipped to the shoreline, is there?

To be clear, NHGIS shapefiles are clipped at the coasts and Great Lakes shores (including river shores between and out of the Great Lakes). But NHGIS doesn’t have any shapefiles clipped to all shorelines for internal water bodies, and no, I don’t know of a source providing such data. We’ll keep that idea in mind, though. Thanks!

Thanks for the clarification, Jonathan. I actually think the NHGIS files will work for what I need–or at least be better than what I have now, but a national tract file with interior water areas removed is on my wish list.

Thanks for all you do.