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Shouldn't a riverbank be tagged with waterway=riverbank instead of natural=water and water=river?! /al 14:04, 1-Sept-2013 (UTC)

No. See proposal discussion. --Zverik (talk) 14:11, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
People have, and will likely continue, tagging just waterway=riverbank. There was a time when mappers went around removing natural=water from riverbank polygons they came across, when the "main" stylesheets of that time no longer needed natural=water for them to render. Luckily, these tags don't clash, so "vote by usage" does no harm. Alv (talk) 14:51, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

intermittent ?

I whould propose to remove water=intermittent from this proposal as it makes it impossible to tag an intermittent river, lake or whatever. I propose to use an other tag for that like intermittent=yes sletuffe 22:57, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Suggest following up difficult conversations going on about how to tag causeways, tidal coverage paths/tracks, low-water islands, and so on first. Also note that water=intermittent is already in use. My suggestion for sorting out the confusion would be to convert water=intermittent to water_coverage=intermittent if we really want to clarify things. That would also sort out potential confusion with the use of water=tidal... as this is proposed for use as an alternative for water=intermittent, but is confusing for people wanting to label tidal water as tidal (meaning a property of the water body generally rather than the bit of land it covers with the tide). I've spent the morning following up the confusion about this whole issue and putting comments in various places. See conversations about tidal roads, tidal paths, causeways, wetland. Rostranimin 12:42, 2 March 2012 (UTC)


Has the idea taken hold? I don't know, so let's find out:

vs natural=water (catch-all)
vs landuse=pond
vs waterway=canal (but not way)
vs waterway=riverbank
vs landuse=reservoir

In the case of "lake", the classic tagging of natural=water could cover many other things too, but 99.8% of lakes in OSM are tagged as natural=water. natural=lake is also rendered by Mapnik, but is hardly used at all (only 105 features at time of writing).

In the case of water=pond it seems to be the most common.

In the case of canals, waterway=canal is very common for ways, but there doesn't seem to be much guidance at all about area features. One might argue that waterway=*, highway=*, aeroway=* etc. are all reserved for way features only, not areas, but then we have waterway=riverbank which is already violating that. So maybe waterway=canal is ok for areas after all? Then let the rendering rules, routing, Xapi extracts figure out what to do based on the feature type??

-- Hamish 27 August 2012

Objects with water=* tags must have natural=water tag on them. This proposal does not replace natural=water tag. Please read it again.
Your confusion with waterway=canal/riberbank is exactly why water=river tag was introduced: to differentiate water ways (waterways) and water cover (natural=water). So the only waterway that is not linear was recommended to be mapped as natural=water + water=river. This eliminates any discrepancies: when you see a mass of water on a satellite imagery, you map it as natural=water and if you can, detail the type of water body with water=*. Riverbanks were broken from the start, but it's too late to fix them, so the alternative was introduced. The same with landuses: they were meant to be virtual entities, "the purpose for this piece of land". But in time, since this information cannot be derived from satellite imagery, it became the same with natural=*. Hence the greatest trouble with landuse=forest/natural=wood. So in this proposal landuses that are water bodies are to be mapped as natural=water as well, not deprecating current tags (it's too late), but so that renderers can accept both old and new notation.
--Zverik 20:46, 27 August 2012 (BST)
waterway=riverbank is widely used, and should (at least for time being) remain untouched. Making a taging rule to leave waterway=canal as way and allow for area tagging of same in an un-interfaring way allows for more detailed maps while maintaining simple routing. Replacing area tags such as landuse=reservoir, landuse=pond etc. is not really necessary. I also think salt=* is a bad or weak idea for identifying salinity of a body of water for two reasons: 1) There should be at least 3 different levels no/brakish/yes maybe, but the it still doesn't seem right, a value of salinity in the form of specific gravity or specific solution (kg/l or mg/l for example?) 2) for some bodies of water, such as lagoons, river estuaries, salt marches, etc salinity can vary depending on season, accumulated percipation, flow rate, or other weather factors. Some fresh water areas might also be subject to "century flooding", and thus making any such detail extremely difficult to handle correctly. --Skippern 22:34, 27 August 2012 (BST)

How to tag a lock?

Currently, the waterway=lock_gate page advises you to tag the outline of a lock with landuse=basin. With this tagging schema, it would be replaced by natural=water+water=reservoir. But if I look at the description of a reservoir: "used to store water", this doesn't count for a lock.

As a lock has a very specific purpose, I used natural=water+water=lock. If this makes some sense, it could be added to the page. --Sanderd17 08:28, 3 September 2012 (BST)

That's a very sensible proposal, I've added water=lock to the list. Thanks. --Zverik 16:03, 4 September 2012 (BST)

pond | reservior

difference? - User:Kr12 Revision as of 16:15, 8 April 2013

Well they're pretty different. A typical pond is a little green muddy water pool in a garden, with ducks and frogs in it. A typical reservoir is a big lake full of fresh drinking water. The page has photos and these definitions "A pond: a body of standing water, man-made in most cases, that is usually smaller than a lake" ... and .... "A reservoir or an artificial lake is used to store water". -- Harry Wood (talk) 17:58, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

waterway=riverbank polygons overlap natural=coastline polygon

As far as I know one simple rule is to not overlap polygons of the same type. Now there are waterway=riverbanks to overlap with coastline. When changing waterway=riverbank to natural=water,water=river natural=water and natural=coastline areas overlap. Any suggestions how to resolve this best?

User:Jeffdameth 19:15, 30 April 2013‎

Where the wide river meets the coastline, there should be two areas (closed ways) up against eachother, overlapping and sharing the same nodes for a few way segments going across the mouth of the river. One is tagged natural=coastline. One is tagged natural=water. Same key. That's not a problem. In fact I don't think that is a rule at all. I mean people put different landuse=* tagged areas up against eachother all the time. -- Harry Wood (talk) 18:05, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Reservoirs and Wastewater ponds

It's suggested in the wastewater section to "also" tag these features with landuse=basin. (note: it used to say man_made=basin, which I changed as it's incorrect) When these features are man-made, wouldn't landuse=basin describe them more accurately, and thus be a better tag than natural=water? Neuhausr (talk) 20:53, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

The key "natural" may be misleading, but it does not indicate that something is natural (as in "not man-made"). --Tordanik 13:03, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Yeah. Use natural=water for all types of water. But it's for the area of the water itself, so I imagine you might have a smaller area of natural=water within a larger landuse=basin -- Harry Wood (talk) 16:40, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

'oxbow' tag overly detailed

For me the water=oxbow tag stands out as seeming a bit overly detailed for this level. We talk about "oxbow lakes". It's really just at type of lake. It's an interesting thing we learn about in high school geography lessons related to how it is formed. But they're just lakes. So I kind of feel like these should be tagged as something like natural=water + water=lake + lake=oxbow ....or maybe geological_formation=oxbow

-- Harry Wood (talk) 18:03, 16 April 2015 (UTC)


Stumbled upon this and assume this should be added to this table? RicoZ (talk) 14:18, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

Must be used only in conjunction with natural=water

Taginfo shows only 90% uses are together with natural=water: . What is the rest - all tagging errors? RicoZ (talk) 14:13, 21 May 2015 (UTC)

I think it's mostly CanVec that used (uses?) water=intermittent + waterway=* (example: way 191017627). Mrwojo (talk) 22:04, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, I have clarified it in the page. RicoZ (talk) 13:14, 23 May 2015 (UTC)
What about water=pond which is not natural, but man-made? --Zcapw15 (talk) 18:47, 29 August 2016 (UTC)
You could use the deprecated and perhaps obsolete landuse=pond. However *if* you use water=pond, you also have to tag it with natural=water, that is the technical convention. It has been argued many times that many waterbodies tagged as natural=water aren't natural at all and we might try to introduce another tagging schemes like man_made=water+water=pond or make the natural=water optional but that has not been done yet and a lone water=* tag is an error right now. RicoZ (talk) 08:22, 30 August 2016 (UTC)

Remembered that there is also the proposal for landcover=water which would help those cases where the water is not considered natural.

RicoZ (talk) 12:00, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Flood retaining basins

On the upper courses of some waterways there are flood retaining basins.

Different from reservoirs, normally they are empty. Their ordinary landuse mostly are meadows.

Only in cases of extraordinary rainfall the lock of their dam is closed and they are flooded, in order to prevent desastrous floods from inhabited areas downstream.

I've not found any apprpriate tag.--Ulamm (talk) 19:21, 19 December 2016 (UTC)

See basin=detention with landuse=basin. --sperlingskauz 23:06, 04 February 2017 (UTC)

Redundant tag water=cove

It already exist the much more common tag natural=bay for tagging any type of bay (as cove, gulf, fjord, inlet and others). water=cove only appears 131 times in Taginfo. It's better a tagging like bay=cove for specifying the type of a bay. --19jp87 (talk) 01:31, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

So, nothing as far as inlets go? Any tagging suggestions? Valerietheblonde (talk) 19:49, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

natural=bay is the approved tag used by the users in these cases. No matter the shape or size. At present doesn't exist a tag for specify the type of a bay. My suggestion is remove water=cove from the table and creation of a new tag bay=* for classify the type of a bay. 19jp87 (talk) 03:16, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
I agree with this. Better to tag it as a bay and improve the type of bay tagging. Aharvey (talk) 23:12, 19 March 2017 (UTC)
I removed water=cove since there seems to be agreement and linked to natural=bay as alternative.--Imagico (talk) 11:58, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

Regulated lakes (reservoirs) min/max elevation

How to tag these elevations? There seem to be no agreed way to tag this that I can find on the wiki.
All lakes used for hydro power will normally have a minimum and maximum elevation.
Taginfo found ele:min and ele:max used around 130 times, which I think are good keys, but should be documented.--Gazer75 (talk) 16:04, 18 August 2018 (UTC)

Should a ditch contain waterway=ditch way inside?

I see that for water=river, water=canal, water=fish_pass, water=ditch there is the text "Should contain waterway=canal/fish_pass way/ditch inside". Not good from a data reduncandy/duplication point of view, One feature, one OSM element, but it makes somewhat sense for me for water bodies that stream or can be used by boats (routing).

A ditch, according to the Cambridge dictonary is a "a long, narrow open hole that is dug into the ground, usually at the side of a road or field, used especially for supplying or removing water or for dividing land" so no (clear) flow of water and no (regular) boats.

Small ditches will be mapped using {tag|waterway|ditch} only, for larger ones the choice can be made to map it as area but adding then {tag|waterway|ditch} does not make sense to me. That folows more the initial text, the update added "Should contain waterway=ditch way inside."

Emvee (talk) 09:49, 14 June 2020 (UTC)

Two common misconceptions here i think:
  • that waterways and riverbank polygons are two different ways of representing rivers etc. in OSM - they are not. Rivers and other directed waterbodies are in OSM represented with a linear waterway. The riverbank polygon (or water=canal polygon etc.) is a representation of the water covered area of the river, not of the river as a whole. So it is not a case of One feature, one OSM element. Additional tags like the name always go to the waterway, not to the riverbank polygons.
  • that the meaning of tags necessarily relates to the meaning of key or value in the English language. This is not the case in general and it cannot because the English language does not have terms for all features of the world wide geography obviously. waterway=ditch practically simply means small artificial waterway.
W.r.t. your phrasing - i think it is a bad idea to introduce new values for water=* for non-directed waterbodies which are already used for waterway=* - like ditch. And for mapping directed waterbodies i think maintaining the established practice that a linear way representation is the primary and a necessary way to map those is a good idea. This for rivers, streams and canals is a very broadly accepted practice. I of course am aware that there are countless cases where this is not the case but i would consider those an error and practically these mostly occur in regions of bad mapping quality.
Given the climate of the Netherlands i also seriously doubt these are actually non-directed waterbodies - there is usually a consistent drainage pattern and connectivity between these ditches.
By the way outside the Netherlands use of water=ditch seems mostly either incorrect tagging of linear ways supposed to be waterway=ditch (for example UK), mapping of the water covered area around a waterway=ditch (for example Eastern Germany, parts of the US) or imports (western US). --Imagico (talk) 14:50, 15 June 2020 (UTC)


What type of water is a fountain? Both the shallow kind that goes up to your knees or hip, and the flat type that barley reach above the sole of your shoes. The fountains I wonder about are between 5x5 and 10x10 metres in size. --Christoffre (talk) 23:46, 18 October 2020 (UTC)

What about amenity=fountain in combination with fountain=*? -- Emvee (talk) 07:14, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
I have already placed the fountain head. But I mean the surrounding water, amenity=fountain only say natural=water.--Christoffre (talk)