[Tagging] Drain vs ditch

François Lacombe fl.infosreseaux at gmail.com
Fri Jan 11 20:01:47 UTC 2019

During the RFC of waterways for power generation proposal several
discussion raised because of some waterways values. Drain and ditches were
ones of them.

Currently, both canal and drain refer to structure and usage also.
Canal is designed for useful water while drain is intended for waste water.
usage=* comes to give more information of what canal is intended for.

Regarding ditch, it regards both useful and waste water.

If we choose to be consistent in waterway=* values, waterway=drain should
be abandonned in favor of canal + appropriate usage=* values.
Then we'll obtain waterway=canal for artificial waterways whatever their
usage and waterway=river, stream and ditch for natural or not-lined

It's long time changes, see the table here :

All the best


Le ven. 11 janv. 2019 à 20:05, Tod Fitch <tod at fitchdesign.com> a écrit :

> Most of what I’d call a drain around here would be large underground pipes
> designed to carry storm water. Empty most of the time except perhaps for a
> trickle of water from various urban/suburban watering overflow. Used most
> of the time by raccoons, possums and rats as away to navigate through or
> shelter in an area without having to worry about being attacked by
> neighborhood dogs, though the larger ones could be attractive for
> adventuresome teenage boys to explore.
> I’d call the open air, usually concrete lined, versions “storm channels”
> though that might be a local colloquial. Many/most of those follow
> reasonably close to the alignment of the original natural waterways and
> often carry the same name as the original (e.g. “Santa Ana River”, “Los
> Angele River”, etc.). Again “river” would be a historic term as they are
> often dry except during or immediately after a storm.
> Cheers!
> On Jan 11, 2019, at 10:18 AM, Eugene Podshivalov <yaugenka at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> Tod, what would be definition of "drain"?
> Eugene
> пт, 11 янв. 2019 г. в 21:10, Tod Fitch <tod at fitchdesign.com>:
>> > On Jan 11, 2019, at 8:36 AM, ael <law_ence.dev at ntlworld.com> wrote:
>> >
>> > As a native speaker, I do not recognise "canal" as appropriate for
>> > irrigation. That is not to say that some canals may also be used
>> > partly for irrigation.
>> >
>> > But the phrase "irrigation ditch" is common and understood.  Bear in
>> > mind that the UK is mainly a fairly wet place, so the need for
>> > substantial irrigation is not high except in some special cases.  The
>> > unqualified word "ditch" would normally be understood as an artificial
>> > unlined and usually small watercourse. But also, in certain contexts,
>> > for a historic trench acting as a defense or fence, not necessarily
>> > containing water.
>> >
>> > That seems to accord with a the sub tag irrigation=yes on ditches -
>> > and maybe on other waterways if that is one of the uses/functions.
>> >
>> > ael
>> >
>> +1
>> In the desert where I was raised the cotton fields were surrounded with
>> “irrigation ditches”, or “ditches” for short. The fields were watered from
>> the ditches by either syphon hoses or sluice gates.
>> Later, when working on road projects, I found that the low areas on the
>> sides of roads (often used as “side borrow” areas during construction of
>> the roadway) were formally called “drainage ditches” or just “ditches” for
>> short.
>> So to me a ditch is simply a channel dug to move water.
>> But I am an American and our terms diverge somewhat from UK usage. So I
>> looked it up in my older paper version of the OED to find the first two
>> definition are “1. An excavation narrow in proportion to its length; the
>> trench or fosse of a fortification, etc.”. “2. Such a hollow dug out to
>> receive or conduct water, esp. to carry off the surface drainage of a road
>> or field, etc.”
>> Based on the second, I can see the reason why some would conflate
>> “drainage ditch” with simply “ditch”. But I don’t see from this where even
>> in UK usage a ditch has to be for drainage. It is simply a long narrow
>> excavation and, in the waterway sense, dug to conduct water from one place
>> to another.
>> Cheers!
>> tf
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