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I am trying to map a part of the Fox River in Berlin, Wisconsin. I am relatively new to OSM and am unsure of how to create a riverbank using ways and relations. Are there any guides out there or any easy way to go about doing this?

Thanks! Please forgive me; I'm relatively new to OSM and am completely new to creating riverbanks.

asked 04 Feb '14, 02:31

ItalianMustache's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 04 Feb '14, 03:02

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

Could you please be more specific on what is not clear with the description at Tag:waterway=riverbank ?

(04 Feb '14, 03:04) aseerel4c26 ♦

The wiki page for riverbank makes several suggestions for what to tag riverbanks as, but isn't at all clear about how a new mapper would go about doing that, using any of the OSM editors.

(04 Feb '14, 09:20) SomeoneElse ♦

@SomeoneElse: I tried to make that "how to" a bit clearer in the "common tagging" section. Links should be followed, too – like on all wiki pages if more information is needed. For how to use an editor the editor's handbook should be read.

(04 Feb '14, 14:12) aseerel4c26 ♦

waterway=riverbank calls for a closed way. If it is unclosed, it will not render properly. Riverbanks are often done via multipolygon relations because 1) there are islands and/or 2) there are so many nodes in the ways that if sections were merged together, they would go over the 2000 node limit.

So, to create a multipolygon relation for the riverbank, you want to take (or create) a way, add it to a new relation of type=multipolygon. On the multipolygon relation, add waterway=riverbank, name=Fox River, and any other tags. Then, on your way, make sure it has role=outer. Repeat this for all other ways that make up the outer edge of the riverbank. Any islands can be added to the same relation, but with role=inner.

It is OK for a riverbank that is a relation to bump up against a riverbank that is made up of one way--their edges will overlap. Although, you might want to consider adding that section to the relation too. Rivers can turn into long projects sometimes!

One other thing, an alternate tagging to waterway=riverbank is natural=water, water=river. Either is acceptable and rendered the same.

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answered 04 Feb '14, 14:25

neuhausr's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

edited 04 Feb '14, 16:01

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦


Good explanation, except for one thing: There's no reason to use multipolygon relations except for islands in the river. When the closed way gets two long, just make two or more closed ways. This will lead to ways going across the river, but don't worry about that - it's part of how riverbank tagging is designed. (The name is somewhat misleading in that regard.)

(04 Feb '14, 20:37) Tordanik

I agree, although I've found that most decent-sized rivers seem to have some islands sooner or later. Also, one could argue that if the whole river is in a relation, it might be easier to deal with from a data user's perspective?

(04 Feb '14, 21:06) neuhausr

This is helping tremendously. Thank you so much!

(05 Feb '14, 05:33) ItalianMustache

"it might be easier to deal with from a data user's perspective" It's not something to discuss here but ... data consumers perspective is something to take into account but more important are the contributors. Making edition easier is more important than simplifying some piece of sofware development.

(05 Feb '14, 12:11) Pieren

Hello There, If it's not been said before welcome to the addiction of OSM.

I find this page to be very helpful,:- it describes well the way to map bodies of water.

If you've more specific questions after reading that page or need anything explaining please just ask.

Regards Bernard

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answered 04 Feb '14, 07:40

BCNorwich's gravatar image

accept rate: 20%


I tried that page, but it really didn't make much sense to me. Thank you for welcoming me. It truly is an addiction.

(05 Feb '14, 05:34) ItalianMustache

As long as you are careful you could study an existing riverbank polygon in your editor. Maybe someone as a good example to learn from. I looked for an editing "how to" video in the wiki but couldn't find one.

(05 Feb '14, 11:05) andy mackey

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question asked: 04 Feb '14, 02:31

question was seen: 4,960 times

last updated: 05 Feb '14, 12:11

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