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Available languages — Tag:natural=water
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Public-images-osm logo.svg natural = water
Blowdown Lake.JPG
Any body of water, from natural such as a lake or pond to artificial like moat or canal Edit or translate this description.
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
Useful combination
See also
Status: approvedPage for proposal

Used to tag an area of water. The type of water body can be specified with water=*. Note that despite key name it is also used for artificial structures like moats, basins of a wastewater treatment plants, canals etc.

How to use

This tag can be placed on an area (i.e. a closed way) for a simple lake, or it can be placed on a Relation:multipolygon if the lake either contains islands or is too big to map with a single way.

Simple Lake

  1. Draw or select a closed way around the perimeter of the lake. It doesn't matter which way around the way goes.
  2. Tag the way with natural=water and maybe a name=*.
  3. For a lake, add a tag water=lake.

Creating islands in lakes

To create islands in a lake, the lake should be a Relation:multipolygon.

First create the lake:

  1. Draw or select the way around the perimeter of the lake.
  2. Create or select a Relation to serve as the lake.
    • In Potlatch: the chain-like button just above the tag button accesses relations. It lets you create a new relation or add the way to an existing relation. Relations are listed as properties of the ways just like tags. Clicking on the left part of the relation accesses the relation's tags, and the right part accesses the tag's role in the relation.
  3. Tag the relation with type=multipolygon, natural=water, name=*, etc. Redundant tags should be removed from the way.
  4. Add the way to the relation and set the role to outer.

Then carve a hole in the lake by adding the island as an inner ring:

  1. Draw or select a way around the perimeter of the island.
  2. Tag the island as appropriate with natural=*, name=*, etc. If natural=* is missing, the island will assume the natural-type (e.g. wood) of the land surrounding the lake.
  3. Add the island to the lake relation with the role of inner.

Creating lakes on islands

  1. draw a way around the lake
  2. tag it natural=water

Automatic water mapping

  1. JOSM plugin scanaerial works like OCR for water. You need 1 click per lake.

Related tags

Key:waterway may list some useful related features.

See also