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Public-images-osm logo.svg water
Nowitna river.jpg
Specification of a water body
Group: Natural
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesshould not be used on waysmay be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Documented values: 4
Useful combination
Wikidata-logo.svgSearch Wikidata
Status: approvedPage for proposal

This tag is used to specify what type of water body is tagged with natural=water, and must be used only in conjunction with it (see obsolete uses). When the latter tag is omitted, it's up to a renderer to decide whether natural=water is assumed.

Possible values

Tagging Description Sample photo
A lake: a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin that is surrounded by land. Artificially created lakes are ponds or reservoirs. Intermittent lakes (which disappear seasonally) should be tagged with intermittent=yes; salt lakes — with salt=yes.

This value should be considered default for natural=water, when no water or other descriptive tags are specified.

Blowdown Lake.JPG
A lagoon: a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. It's better to specify saltness of water with salt=yes/no. GlenrockLagoonFromLeichhardtLookout.JPG
A pond: a body of standing water, man-made in most cases, that is usually smaller than a lake. Salt evaporation ponds should be tagged with landuse=salt_pond, open-air swimming pools — with leisure=swimming_pool. Branddam-Beder.jpg
A reflecting pool: a water feature found in gardens, parks, and at memorial sites. It usually consists of a shallow pool of water, undisturbed by fountain jets, for a calm reflective surface. USA 09562 Boston Luca Galuzzi 2007.jpg
A reservoir or an artificial lake is used to store water. Lakevyrnwysummer.jpg
An area of land artificially graded to hold water. Linz regenrückhaltebecken.jpg
A body of a canal, a man-made channel for water. Should contain waterway=canal way inside. MurtfaltalrDanubeChannel.JPG
A body of river. Should contain waterway=river way inside. Volga Ulyanovsk-oliv.jpg
The body of a fish pass for the fish to pass waterway dams or weirs. Should contain waterway=fish_pass way inside. Fischtreppe Isar bei Pullach.jpg
An oxbow lake: U-shaped body of water formed when a wide meander from the main stem of a river is cut off to create a lake. Nowitna river.jpg
A lock chamber outline: a part of river, canal or lake system, level of which can be manipulated. The mapping of a lock and its parts is described on wiki-site lock=*. HeidelbergLock2.jpg
A deep, wide defensive ditch, normally filled with water, surrounding a fortified habitation. Naarden kl.JPG
A clarifier/settling basin of a wastewater treatment plant. Maybe a landuse=basin should also be added. The whole area of the plant should get a man_made=wastewater_plant, BTW. Sewage.jpg
A stream pool; a small and usually deep collection of fresh water, supplied by a spring, or occurring along a stream or river. Water velocity in the pool is typically much lower than the watercourse. Frequently found below a waterfall. Stream Pool "Jump Rock" along Macquarie Rivulet, Macquarie Pass, NSW, Australia.


For Lake Baikal area tags would be as follows:


Rivers and reservoirs

This tag implies that all water bodies are tagged uniformly, with natural=water and water=*. There were several cases when this pattern was broken: river bodies, reservoirs and, occasionaly, ponds. Now all those features can be tagged with natural=water, but the original tags may be preserved for legacy renderers (although there's not many cases when their processing is different from natural=water).

So, those are equivalent, while natural=water scheme is preferred:

Obsolete uses

See also

Possible Tagging Mistakes

type=lake - If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag. Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!

Attention: relations with type=lake are also used to map lake depth lines, so the relation is completely unrelated to multipolygons

Not rendered

water=ditch - If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag. Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!