Rivers update in Norway


We are working on a project that aims at improving rivers. This includes: updating older tagging of river areas from waterway=riverbank to natural=water + water=river, fixing overlaps and connectivity issues, removing duplications and other problems. More info on the process is here: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/User:ZeLonewolf/Procedure/River_modernization

I would like to work on updating rivers in Norway and so I want to know first if there are any concerns.

From what I can see this is not problematic at all. Updating tags and fixing errors is never a bad thing :slight_smile:

If you run into specific issues and questions on specific rivers you can just post them here or visit the Norwegian irc “#osm-no”.

Please do not get rid of the waterway=riverbank tagging.
For riverbanks that are intermittent you would run into conflict with the surface of the riverbed that needs the natural key for natural=shingle or natural=bare_rock.
To tag these as an intermittent riverbank you need to combine it with waterway=riverbank and intermittent=yes.


Interesting. Those cases seem to be endemic to Norway. But they are only a minor fraction of the total river areas: 64 out of 17771 (http://overpass-turbo.eu/s/158a)

We could tag them as e.g. natural=water + water=river + intermittent=yes + riverbed=bare_rock

Or if you want to keep the tagging for renderer then we could duplicate the areas into two and tag as:

  1. natural=bare_rock + layer=-1
  2. natural=water + water=river + intermittent=yes

Any preference?

The reason it is not very common is people do not bother mapping it. You kind of need access to images at different times of the year to see the change.
There are many places in the world that could have this kind of tagging due to varying levels of water in rivers. Spring floods or almost dry rivers due to hydro power are two examples.

Why change one tag with two by going from waterway=riverbank to natural=water + water=river ?
Using two tags to describe a single feature seem cumbersome to me.

I haven’t seen any voting in any direction to remove the waterway=riverbank tag and creating a new one for riverbed is just complicating things. Adding more ways and layers is even worse.

It’ll take years, if ever, before the carto guys will support a new tag, so it will probably never gain acceptance. Most people don’t map what they can’t see rendered, that’s just how it is.

If you want to do this you probably need to start by proposing a riverbed tag and get this widely accepted, then this change can be done without causing limitations.

The one tag vs. two tags is not really an issue, since those are anyways hidden behind presets. But the advantage of water tag is that all water covered areas are logically grouped together and can be then subset easily. Also the vote to change to that tag scheme was done 10 years ago with a proposal: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:natural%3Dwater and we are just updating to that standard.
btw. Norway already has 12032 water=river (http://overpass-turbo.eu/s/158y)

The thing is that we should not tag or map according to the renderer, but according to the reality. And there are places around the world mapped for low water level. Those are though correctly tagged as natural=wetland. And that should be the case also for natural=shingle as that is meant also for river beds (https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:natural%3Dshingle). If you are against starting a new tag, I can also correct these areas by removing the river tag and keep intermittent=yes or replacing it with water=intermittent, which has large usage (https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/tags/?key=water&value=intermittent).

This has nothing to do with mapping for renderer, but actually what is there. The riverbank varies and the surface when not at high water level is usually shingle or bare rocks. This is also not wetland as you mention, that is completely different.

The whole proposal never considered this issue when it was voted upon as I can see. If I had known I would have voiced my concerns and voted against it.
The proposal voting process is kind of silly IMO. You can essentially approve a proposal by a 2 to 1 vote. That’s probably like 0.1% of active mappers out there.

This should be fixed by proposing a tag to allow proper mapping before going through with this.

If this is forced I’ll just stop mapping these features and do something else. Why bother if its not going to be used in any way.
Tbh I get less and less inclined to map things with with more and more changes/proposals that are not thought through properly.
This change basically throws away many many hours of mapping so why should I bother mapping in the future. Someone might find another tag to change and deprecate my work.

Hmm, but this has been like this for 10 years and now to stop everything because of 64 areas in Norway seems a bit too strong.

If you look at the description of natural=shingle it pretty much describes your situation, but I’ve tried to do some research and I’ve come up with more possibilities:

  1. use surface tag. It is typically used for man-made features, but it is also used to tag surface of natural=shoal and wetland=tidalflat. And it’s been also suggested in old proposal of Water_cover (which is what you are tagging).

  2. waterway=riverbed , which is a more recent proposal. I personally don’t like it, because waterway is meant to be used for network of ways for routing and navigation on water, but it is a possibility. It uses surface, landcover, natural… tags for surface material material and has more extra tags for additional qualities tagging such as riverbed:type and riverbed:slope,…

  3. As previously suggested intermittent=yes. For example natural=bare_rock is used with tidal=yes to indicate that it can be covered by water. So adding intermittent or tidal would indicate occasional water cover.

Or you can use “any tag you like” rule and come up with completely different system of tagging and document it in wiki or make a proposal.

On a side note, according to current rules we need at least 8 approval votes with 75% approval rate. Since 99.9% of active mappers don’t care about proposals or voting that in the end checks out. If you are interested, I suggest you to subscribe to tagging mailing list (https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/tagging). And you can also check recent changes in tagging at: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Changelog

Please do not mix in tidal stuff with this. That is completely different.

I’ve pretty much said what I think and have nothing more to add really.
If you want to do this I can’t stop you. I’ll simply just stop doing detailed river mappings if at all in the future.
Kind of sad that we loose some map details, but I guess that’s fine by some.
I’m not going spend time trying to get some new tagging system accepted and actually used, let a lone rendered on the main map.

It’s kind of funny how waterway is used for other tagging that got accepted.
The tag is also still used almost equal to the “new” combination.

Why was is never fixed on wiki and deprecated back in 2011?

Anyways good luck with your project. Hope you map all Norwegian riverbanks while you’re at it :stuck_out_tongue:

There is no consensus on retagging waterway=riverbank to natural=water + water=river. Please do not carry out this mass edit here in Norway.

I didn’t mean that it should be tagged as tidal, but as an inspiration since the same principle applies for varying water levels in both rivers and shores.

If you absolutely don’t like any of the riverbed tagging options, I could also leave those areas that are intermittent=yes untouched and you guys can decide later what you want to do with them.
Or I could ask at the IRC if someone has more ideas.

Regarding deprecation, yes that is a known problem, that proposals often don’t deprecate other tags or convert the old tagging after being accepted. Then we end up with situations like this where one feature can be tagged in 3 different ways.

At this stage, it is ok for me to retag to natural=water + water=river in Norway. The features with conflicting natural=* tags could use the surface=* tag.

Surface is pretty much for constructed areas, not natural ones…

Ok, then we could just delete the few conflicting tags.

So basically remove all of my work on the riverbed surfaces?
Can’t have natural=shingle/sand and natural=water.
Problem is someone decided that natural=water + water=river was the way to go without considering the loss of details.

The people going for deprecating the riverbank tagging should have created a new way of tagging and get this accepted into carto first.

I’ve spent a lot of hours/days working on rivers with varying water levels. Would probably have been even more if this thing didn’t happen.
Loosing all of this is not a great motivator for me to continue contributing to OSM tbh. Whats the point if someone later decides to change the way tagging is done and just deletes details.

The immediate solution would probably be to change any areas currently using waterway=rivebank + natural=* to a two relation setup.

New water relation would be natural=water + water=river + intermittent=yes
Then another relation with same members but this time just a natural=shingle/sand or whatever fits for the riverbed in that spot.

There are over 1000 relations that need to be modified and added.

Not sure if this will trigger a lot of validators out there and consider this wrong, but its the best way to keep the data at least.

Ok, then the conclusion is to use two relations.