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Public-images-osm logo.svg waterway = stream
Stream on Heaphy Track.jpg
A naturally-forming waterway that is too narrow to be classed as a river. Edit or translate this description.
Rendering in openstreetmap-carto
Group: Waterways
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasmay be used on relations
Useful combination
See also
Status: de factoPage for proposal


Use waterway=stream for a naturally-forming waterway that is too narrow to be classed as waterway=river (the commonly accepted rule for OpenStreetMap is that a stream can be jumped across by an active, able-bodied person). A stream need not be permanently filled with water. In case of varying size or intermittent waterways the distinction from larger rivers based on the above criterion should be made with respect to the high water level.

For artificial (man made) small watercourse used for drainage consider using waterway=ditch or waterway=drain. For a wider man-made watercourse created for navigation use waterway=canal. If the feature you are mapping never contains water or if its primary use is to prevent access to the other side, you should use barrier=ditch. For tidal creeks and channels - natural tidal waterways within the coastal marine environment with bi-directional flow of salty water which depends on the tides - see waterway=tidal_channel.

How to map

To map a stream, make a simple way and add the waterway=stream tag to it. If a flow exists, the direction of the way must be downstream (i.e. the way direction follows the flow). If the stream discharges into another stream, a river or the ocean you should make sure both are connected through a shared node.

Additional tags:

  • name=* to specify the name of the stream, for example 'Little Creek'.
  • width=* to indicate the width of the stream. This is an approximate average width of the stream throughout most of length of that bit of stream.
  • intermittent=yes to indicate that a stream does not have a permanent flow.
  • tunnel=culvert if the stream flows under a road, railroad, trail, or similar feature.

See also