Talk:WikiProject Whitewater Maps

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Discuss WikiProject Whitewater Maps here:

Riverside observation. Grading system.

Hi, as I now live in a town with a river, i.e. Shrewsbury, I'm interested in how I can improve the data for the Whitewater maps. I've been canoeing once, about 5 years ago down a fairly quite stretch of the Severn just upstream of Shrewsbury, so I don't have much of an idea of terms used, nor the ability to map from on the river itself. Even so, I'd like to try and add something from riverside observation. I've seen a few slopes, some concreted and some not, footpaths leading down near the water and some ladders leading into the water. How do I tell which are put_in, egress, etc?

The stretch of the Severn I know best (where NCN81/my route to work runs alongside, i.e. the big loop around the town centre) is quite calm. Is that of interest or are you after, as the name suggests the rougher bits (like downstream of the weir).

All for now. Higgy 21:43, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

The kind of information we're going for is something which could be used in conjuction with a kayaking guidebook for a river. In particular I'd like to help illustrate kayakwiki river guides with some maps of individual rivers. So you can imagine that these guidebooks will generally identify an interesting stretch of river, with some rapids/drops, say 10/15 kilometres long, and suggest a good place to "put in" and "take out". Generally kayakers prefer to have a nearby car park, and no need to walk across private land for these places. I guess there's no harm in labelling any spot where kayakers can easily get on and off the river, although that might clutter the map a bit if there are many potential places.
Anyone can also help create kayaking maps by adding features like bridges and power lines which are always useful just for figuring out where you are on a river. Then there's things like wiers, and tree hazards, which might either be minor obstacles or severe hazards. If something looks like a severe hazard, it's probably most useful to tag it as such, and then have a kayaker downgrade it later if it turns out to be runnable.
Whitewater gradings are a tricky thing. They are very subjective, and quite difficult to judge from the river bank actually. Even with photo illustrations of different river grades, there is often confusion caused by different eye-levels / distance from the rapid. UK rivers guidebook river gradings page is reasonably good, but notice how different grade 5 looks just because it is taken from a long way away. Same problem when looking first hand. You have to get down to kayakers eye-level to judge difficulty better. Anyway, that link shows how the gradings go.
Should non-kayakers attempt to guess a grade just by looking at the river? Well I think it's enevitable that grade guesses will get whacked in, and these will need to be refined over time. So yes. But if you don't want to be responsible for any nasty accidents, you may want to err on the side of caution with your grading (tag it more difficult than it is). For individual rapids/drops you may prefer to use 'unknown' (thereby indicating that there is a rapid/drop, but you don't know what grade it should be). Alternatively if a rapid certainly looks like something wihch would take a kayaker by surprise and give them a pummelling, you could label it grade 6. That way a kayaker will certainly get out and take a look at it, and hopefully edit the map to set the grade correctly!
(Are you starting to see why this needs a special disclaimer?!)
-- Harry Wood 10:21, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Hello, how about differing grade at different water level? There are some rivers, that are insteresting for kayakers only when the dam is opend (so the waterlevel gets higher).--Petr Dlouhý 12:24, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Good question. I guess we should do what most kayaking guidebook do, which is to give the grade of the river during "normal" paddling conditions, in season with medium water levels.
But then for dam release rivers like the Tryweryn it's more complicated. For now I'd say stick a whitewater:description tag on the put-in node describing what are the best times of day/week to paddle it (might mean padding on the day of a dam release, or avoiding the day of dam release) This information should also be given on the guide for the river.
We could do something more sophisticated and machine-readable, so that we have the data necessary for a search of all nearby grade 4 rivers which are runnable in the next few hours. That would be awesome, but we've not got very far with basic river tagging yet so...
-- Harry Wood 11:51, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Extend project to other parts of kayak / rowboat sports

I like the "whitewater"-tag for attributes of a river like rapids, section and hazards.

I think it is not useful to have "whitewater=put_in", "riverkayak=put_in", "seakayak=put_in", "rowboat=put_in", etc. but one common scheme for all muscle powered boats (I cant find a good name for a toplevel tag, so I use "mpb"). If one place is not allowed for e.g. rowboats, we can add a tag "mpb=put_in", "rowboat=no".

On some rivers it is not allowed or restricted use a kayak. We should have a tag with "mpb=(yes/restricted/fee/no)" and an extra description of the restriction.

On rivers with section_grade<2 we could add a tag weather it is possible to go upstream "mpb:upstream=(yes/kayak_only/no)".

"waterway=weir" should have an optional tag weather it is passable by kayak (kayak=yes/kayak_only/K1_only/no).

Yes, I think the upper class should called "canoe". e.g. "canoe=put_in" and so on. Speleo 21:34, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm also not happy with the whitewater tag. Paddling is more than WW. If we do the work to extend OSM, why not do it in a general way for the whole paddling sport? Lots of people like flatwater or sea paddling as well. For example, they need to know if a dam should be portaged left or right or if there is a sluice. I find the tag mpb not very handy, but is is far better than whitewater . --OSM Peter 02:17, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
I disagree. I've thought about this for a while, and I think the argument about paddling being more than whitewater is a false one. This is very clearly true - but the intention of this map is to mark places where this specific sport takes place - and the put-in/take-out spots for this specifically. I'd suggest that in addition it would be very sensible to add put-in/take-out spots for human power boats in general where these are limited. But it may be quite possible on a river to have many many spots where boats can be put in/taken out and which would never be mapped (alongside marked 'whitewater' put in spots). Where these are so limited we want to mark them I'd suggest an additional tag - almost as proposed - to indicate to other small boat users that such a spot exists. I'd suggest using 'humanpoweredboat' not 'mpb' though. I know its long - but nobody will use a tag if they can't remember it. --Rostranimin 14:13, 6 June 2011 (BST) OR maybe 'paddlecraft' would be even better? Rostranimin 15:30, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Can't we all just get along?

Nearly all water sports have the same needs; powerboats, kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards (sup), or even innertubes. The "whitewater" tag is very narrowly focused and limiting. Its use for other watercraft, because it is the only tagging scheme currently being rendered, is confusing. Primarily, the basics I speak of are for routing; put in, egress, portages. Most hazards would apply to any boating activity. Shops, rentals and the like should also be made more generic. I would like to propose the use of something more generic like "watercraft" or "watersport", or if only for human powered watercraft something like "paddlecraft" or "paddlesport". Anything more inclusive than "whitewater". Save the whitewater tag for elements that are truly specific to the sport.

--TreeStryder (talk) 15:21, 8 May 2021 (UTC)

Propose additional use of 'paddlecraft=put_in; egress;'

This problem has been irritating me for a couple of weeks because there's a put_in site I'd like to mark on a flat water site. Clearly this isn't suitable for a whitewater tag. As I wrote above, I don't like 'mpb' because people won't remember it or know what it means. After a great deal of thinking I want to propose we add the use of the tagging scheme using... paddlecraft=put_in paddlecraft=egress paddlecraft=put_in; egress I do /not/ suggest that this replaces any whitewater tags. Whitewater tags are intended to mark preferred whitewater paddling sites - which is clearly a reasonable thing to do. Obviously a whitewater=put_in site counts equally as a paddlecraft=put_in site, but there is no need to add it separately - any rendering for paddlers should render both (or for whitewater paddlers potentially omit the paddlecraft sites if people wanted to do this). Rostranimin 12:07, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

Kayak maps

It is not right, that there are no maps available. In Germany there are the Wassersport-Wanderkarte 1 to 7, for kanu und rowing in Germany and Austria. There is also a good france map "905 France Canoe-Kayak ET SPORTS D'EAU VIVE". This map is also a good example how i imagine a OSM kayak map. - User:OSM Peter 02:34, 4 January 2010

Shame we can't see an example of some of these maps on-line, their all printed maps?
I'd like to have a more consistently maintained OSM derived kayak map, similar to the CycleMap in structure. Maybe a worldwide "Outdoors" layer, rendered much like UK OS high detail OS maps, with contours, paths, rivers etc.
This could then be layered with CycleMap, Kayak Map or any similar data. There are a number of different attempts at this, but most are hosted of peoples home machines and not updated regularly or have a limited coverage, unlike the cyclemap. Tempted to have a go myself, but I'm not all that sure where to start, may drop Andy Allen a line.
--Martin Renvoize 13:04, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
Something tells me Andy Allen (User:Gravitystorm) may be working on something along those lines anyway. "sneak preview" -- Harry Wood 00:21, 18 February 2010 (UTC)


Many rivers get much more dangerous when they are full or already overflooding the land, e.g. when snow has melted. How is this represented? Any tag to place the water highness level (just correct my poor english. DE:Pegelstand)? Lulu-Ann

Artificial Kanu race facilities

How to tag a concrete build non natural kanu track? Lulu-Ann

Slalom gates

I propose whitewater=slalom_gates for river sections equipped. Yvecai


How to tag rapids itself? waterway=rapids, natural=rapids or whitewater=rapids? --Skippern 09:31, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

waterway=rapids is an abandoned proposal, and bad idea for a couple of reasons: Talk:Tag:waterway=rapids
See also #Riverside observation. Grading system. discussion above (essentially asking the same question. How to tag rapids if you're not sure of the grade?)
To fit with this scheme, I'd suggest whitewater:rapid_grade=unknown on either a node or short section of river.
But I guess we might want a more general and shorter tag for rapids. If I were inventing something quick and easy, I'd probably suggest river=rapids (use alongside waterway=river, following the tag chaining approach) It would need to be described in a proposal a lot better than waterway=rapids was though. How rapid does a rapid need to be, to count as a rapid? The proposal would need to tackle this verifiability problem. Here we at least have a grading system to tackle this, and get-out clause.
-- Harry Wood 11:52, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
I came across this while correcting parts of a river with Bing! vertical images, sections I had to move was definitely more rapid (visible white water), but still definitely not waterway=waterfalls and I was stuck with this question. Maybe whitewater=rapids together with waterway=river for nodes or sections? BTW Harry, you might want to head over my way and try whitewater padling in Rio Juca with me next time you visit Brazil, if you are willing to train a fellow mapper :D --Skippern 13:02, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Somewhat confused with what your getting at? Tagging the physical rapid across it's entire length? Surely we've already got a good set of tags for these. Most rapids in my mind are short sections of Whitewater and should therefore be tagged with whitewater:rapid_grade=# and whitewater:rapid_name=* as appropriate upon a node that already exists on the river (as shown in this example on the River Kent [1]. If the rapid is of a significant length, then cut the river into sections and tag the whole section with the above mentioned tags? Martin Renvoize This user is member of the wiki team of OSM 12:01, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

As far as I know, none of the rapids in Rio Juca, Brazil, have been named or graded for whitewater.... --Skippern 13:08, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

In that case, personally. I'de stick to whitewater:rapid_grade=unknown Martin Renvoize This user is member of the wiki team of OSM 15:42, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Ended up tagging waterway=river name=Rio Juca natural=rapids whitewater=rapids whitewater:rapid_grade=unknown --Skippern 18:14, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

I suppose rapids which you can see in imagery must be rather huge. Brazil has a few of these. I went to see Iguacu falls [2] . I thought about kayak mapping them, but I couldn't see a line :-) -- Harry Wood 13:54, 8 December 2010 (UTC)


I don't see anything already noted around legal access. Prompted by a currently active discussion on the 'song of the paddle' forum I've had a look for existing tags. There's a general page on access legalities Access, and another specifically on the use of boat=* Key:boat or canoe=*. Can we/I add these onto the list of useful tags? --Rostranimin 13:59, 26 May 2011 (BST) - update: have added a short note in useful tags section --Rostranimin 12:37, 29 May 2011 (BST)

Renderings etc

I like the current rendering - but I also like to be able to browse whitewater tags to see what notes and so on have been added. I've been using Open Street Browser for this and want to recommend it to you all. It has rough edges - some things don't work well (a big problem just now - Jan2012 - is that it doesn't work with Internet Explorer) - but with a little effort it becomes easy to use. I've created a way to display whitewater tags on this... what you have to do is to go to the site: Open Street Browser, and add the 'Waterways and Other Water' category to the display. 'Whitewater Information' is a sub category of this. To add these categories click on the small words 'More Categories' on the left column, then 'Waterways and Other Water' in the list which appears or click on this link to view an area of Scotland with the whitewater information already displayed. Experiment with the function of OpenStreetBrowser and it'll soon make sense. If you go to a bit of the map which doesn't render properly try clicking the little '+' sign on the very right hand edge of the map, and select 'Standard (Mapnik)' from the list. Note that areas not yet viewed will be rendered when asked for - you may need to view an area more than once to see it rendered properly. Note that I'm still occasionally playing with how this category works - feel free to join me (click the little 'i' symbol and you'll see the rules which determine this).--Rostranimin 10:49, 31 October 2011 (UTC) (updated Rostranimin 23:09, 8 January 2012 (UTC))

That was 2011. Is it still possible to get a Whitewater map out of OpenStreetBrowser? I'm not sure it is (Couldn't find what to click on at least)
Likewise OpenSeaMap could show us a whitewater map at one stage. Hence we currently have a bold link to it. But is it still possible to do so on there? Not sure what to click on.
And for really ancient history... Once upon a time (in 2008!) I produced this rendering. It shows whitewater graded sections in different colours, which is the natural (intended) way to make use of the sections data:
Llyfni Kosmos whitewater map.png
We used to have it on the page, but this was using rendering rules set up in Kosmos, which hasn't existed for a long time.
Are there any currently working renderings of whitewater tags?
-- Harry Wood (talk) 01:21, 9 September 2019 (UTC)

Forgotten but approved proposal?

Hi, how about WikiProject_Whitewater_Maps/Proposals "Whitewater Tags"? It has been apparently approved but isn't used anywhere and whitewater sports still shows the older tagging??? RicoZ (talk) 20:02, 30 November 2013 (UTC)


I just left a note / an idea at Talk:Key:waterway#riffle.3Dyes and wanted to leave the link here. It's not to offend you, but deprecating the rapids=yes or waterway=rapids withdraw a possibility for tagging these places. The proposed riffle=yes tag in my eyes has nothing to do with sports, but just with the nature (and may it be artificial). And at least in plain areas these places are well defined! Greetings, -- Schusch (talk) 07:44, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

In my opinion, we should tag rapid or riffles on waterways as the common people see them, and whitewater tagging shoul be dedicated to these sports enthusiasts. In other words the tags should cohabite.