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The WIKI offers the following definitions for a streaming waterway. A stream is a naturally-forming waterway that is too thin to be classed as a river. It may not even be permanently filled with water. Waterway=river is used to tag a river. For larger rivers also have a look at waterway=riverbank. For really small rivers and streams, see waterway=stream. But when is a stream becoming a river, when you’re able to use a boat, or the width. What’s a good assumption for a point to tag stream or river ?

asked 29 Sep '12, 14:46

Hendrikklaas's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

This is one case where the threshold to choose between one and the other is subjective. Like roads, different areas of the world will use a different threshold (arid regions will probably say "river" for smaller features). Most waterways will vary in width depending on season, with complicates things.

In any case, I'd say the criteria is the width of the waterway, and not its navigability or other attribute. The wiki mentions a width of 2 meters as an example stream width. I remember even looser definitions like "can be jumped over by a fit adult" :p My opinion (mapping a wet country) is that 2-3m is still a stream, and anything bigger is a river.

However, if tagging the width isn't too tedious, then do. Tagging the width makes the stream/river distinction moot, because it is a much more precise information. And in theory, renderers could use that to draw the waterways at scale in high-enough zooms (this is not yet the case of the default osm rendering).

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answered 30 Sep '12, 02:00

Vincent%20de%20Phily's gravatar image

Vincent de P... ♦
accept rate: 19%

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question asked: 29 Sep '12, 14:46

question was seen: 16,890 times

last updated: 30 Sep '12, 02:00

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum