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Public-images-osm logo.svg watershed
Information about watershed relations Show/edit corresponding data item.

  • way - (blank)
  • way - main_stream
  • way - subbasin
Status: undefined

This page collects all information about watershed relations.

There exists no proposal and no voting about this tagging.

Short description

(moved text from waterways page --Werner2101 14:49, 28 December 2012 (UTC))

A tag type=watershed got introduced to be able to describe a basin/watershed system of a river. Just adding child relations of tributaries to a parent relation does not get rendered/is not yet implemented/will never be implemented. For now one has to add all single waterway=river of a every single river to a parent river's watershed.

To also add areas (waterway=riverbank or natural=water) to the watershed-relation is not recommended - it would mean unnecessary overhead if there is already the waterway=river tag present in the relation.

History of watershed relations

  • 2009-06: user:katpatuka started creating watershed relations to simplify loading watersheds
  • ...

Current usages

Relation tags

Key Value Description
type watershed type tag of the relation
name name of the watershed / basin
parent_basin name of the parent_basin

Relation members

The following members are used in the current osm database:

Object type Role Recurrence Description
relation None * tributary relation with relation type=watershed
relation None * tributary waterways with relation type=waterway
way None * any kind of waterway ways. They usually have a waterway=[river, canal, stream, drain, ditch] tag
no riverbank areas or ways

see also: Taginfo about type=watershed

Do we need relations for watersheds?

Discussions on mailing lists, ...

Opinion of user:werner2101

Actually, I think that we don't need watershed relations. They can be created by scanning all upstream waterways starting with a relation:waterway. It is much easier to maintain single waterway relations and let a computer to the rest.

As long as the watershed relations exist, I think we should reuse as much upstream relations as possible and not add simple waterway way segments to the watershed relations.

I think it's a bad idea to mix waterway relations and watershed relations. This mixed mapping method is partly used in france, where tributaries of waterway relations are added to waterway relations with the role tributary.

This causes problems in wikipedia, too as the WIWOSM system can not distinct between normal members and tributaries. While the Rhein is displayed nice in wikipedia/WIWOSM, the Seine looks pretty bad with all the tributaries.

--Werner2101 14:49, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

Yes, we need

We need some way to get together all members of a water basin, since it's one of the most important geographical features. This means also getting together the borders, i.e., the ridges, actually what is called a watershed, since actually it constitutes the shed, that is a sort of surface shape, not the waterways. The watershed is defineed by the topographic limits. Like in a multipolygon, the ridges constitutes the outer ways, in the shape of a closed multipolygon. Actually I would prefer to call this sort of relation as "water_basin" or "drainage_basin" ( Also not as, since it's natural, not man made. I'd prefer something like natural=water_basin

Sergio (talk) 21:07, 11 April 2018 (UTC)

basins, composed of divides

I would like to draw drainage divides, I don't particularly care of their graphic representation, but I do think it's a valuable piece of information. As Sergio above says, we would draw the drainage_divides/watersheds (type:way), and group them in drainage_basins (type:relation). I prefer the British English names, they assume less previous knowledge from non native speakers. we already have a waterway=drain, we can have a natural=drainage_divide for the borders, and natural=drainage_basin for the relation.

To make it possibly more concrete, consider this picture: the type:way natural=drainage_divide would be the red lines (Hauptwasserscheiden), while the type:relation natural=drainage_basin would be the greenish areas (Flusseinzugsgebiete). These relations would use a section of type:way natural=coastline to close the ring.

Mariotomo (talk) 13:07, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

This seems to be a good way to proceed. Arlo James Barnes (talk) 18:27, 4 October 2023 (UTC)

See also