A waterway is any navigable body of water. These include rivers, lakes, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:
- The waterway must be deep enough to allow the draft depth of the vessels using it;
- The waterway must be wide enough to allow passage for the beam width of the vessels using it;
- The waterway must be free of barriers to navigation such as waterfalls and rapids, or have a way around them (such as canal locks);
- The current of the waterway must be mild enough to allow vessels to make headway.
Vessels using waterways vary from small animal-drawn barges to immense ocean tankers
and ocean liners
, such as cruise ships.
At one time, canals were built mostly for small wooden barges drawn by horses or other draft animals. Today, major canals are built to allow passage of large ocean-going vessels. See Ship Canal.