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Public-images-osm logo.svg intermittent
Used to indicate whether or not a waterway or water body does not permanently contain water. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Rendering in OSM Carto way
Rendering-waterway river intermittent.png
Rendering in OSM Carto area
Water intermittent 100.png
Group: properties
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)should not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
See also
Status: approvedPage for proposal

The intermittent=* key is used to indicate that a waterway or body of water does not permanently contain water. Sometimes also used for other objects that are intermittent in nature (they disappear and appear again at the same spot).


intermittent=yes is used

  • to indicate that a waterway=* (river, stream, etc.) does not have a permanent flow
  • to indicate that a water=* body is not permanently filled with water

intermittent=no implies the opposite of the above (that a body of water is filled or flows year round). intermittent=no is a possible menu-driven fill value for this field in iD.

If this tag does not appear on a water-based object, the assumed default is intermittent=no.

Intermittent vs. seasonal

For waterbodies that contain water and dry up on a seasonal basis there is also seasonal=* to more specifically indicate this. intermittent=yes is widely used for waterbodies with seasonal variation as well - either with or without a supplemental seasonal=yes. Some mappers also prefer to use intermittent=yes only for non-seasonal intermittency, but generally intermittent=yes is used for any waterways and waterbodies without permanent water presence, including seasonal and ephemeral water presence.

The typical case of adding intermittent=yes is that mapper encounters a waterbody/waterway in a dry state but with indications of recent water cover or water flow. In some cases it is possible to get further info about water presence, for example whatever it is seasonal or ephemeral or appearing irregularly.

Additional tags may help to better define situation. For specifying seasonal variations seasonal=* may be used in addition to intermittent=yes. The abandoned proposal for ephemeral=* was intended to add similar tagging allowing the addition of information about ephemeral water presence.

Sometimes it is claimed that word "intermittent" has meaning that excludes regular changes and it is supported by some definitions. But some define this word in way that includes also regular changes, for example "occurring occasionally or at regular or irregular intervals" (example from Collins). In general, terminology is not shared by everybody - for example Wikipedia entry for "stream" considers "intermittent" and "seasonal" to be synonyms in case of streams while in OSM seasonal is a special case of intermittent and some consider seasonal and intermittent to cover separate classes of how water presence changes.


Intermittent lake Cerknica in Slovenia:
name=Cerkniško Jezero

relation Cerkniško Jezero

The intermittent river or wash/arroyo, Cañada del Oro, in the United States of America:
name=Cañada del Oro

relation Cañada del Oro

Example rendering


Rendering-waterway river intermittent.png

Rendering-waterway stream intermittent.png

Water areas

Water intermittent.png

See also

Possible tagging mistakes

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