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Public-images-osm logo.svg water = lake
Blowdown Lake.JPG
A natural or semi-natural body of relatively still fresh or salt water which is surrounded by land. Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Group: water
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesshould not 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

Lake: a natural or semi-natural body of relatively still fresh or salt water, localized in a basin that is surrounded by land. Artificially created lakes should instead be tagged as water=basin, water=reservoir, or water=pond.

How to map

Draw a closed way to form an area. Add water=lake + natural=water.

Tags used in combination

  • name=* - The officially designated name.
  • intermittent=yes - Intermittent lakes (which disappear seasonally).
  • salt=yes - For salt lakes.


Lakes with one or more islands in them should be mapped as multipolygons.

First, map the island(s).

  • for each island, draw the outline area of the island by tracing its shoreline
  • add place=island or if it is very small place=islet
  • optional landuse=* can be added. For example, if the island is wooded, add landuse=forest or natural=wood.
  • if the island has a name=* of its own, add it here too

Next, map the lake outline.

  • draw a closed way area following the lake's shoreline
  • do not add any tags to this way – the lake's tags will instead be put on the parent relation

Finally, create a type=multipolygon relation.

  • All tags, including natural=water and water=lake should be on the relation.
  • Add the lake outline as a member with role outer
  • add the island(s) as members with role inner

See also

  • water=oxbow - a U-shaped lake that forms when a meandering river changes course
  • water=pond - a body of standing water, man-made in most cases, that is usually smaller than a lake
  • water=lagoon - a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by a barrier
  • water=basin - An area of land artificially graded to hold water
  • water=reservoir - an artificial lake or reservoir formed by a dam across a natural water course or depression
  • OSM Inspector Water