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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 areasshould not be used on 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 tag

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

Additional tags

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

How to map


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