I have three tables: water, wetlands and parcels. I want to update parcel table with area that is covered by water or wetland (they can overlap).

So I want to

  1. Merge water with wetland
  2. Dissolve and multipart -> singlepart
  3. Intersect this with parcels to calculate area:

Number of parcels is ~400 000, water 200 and wetlands 10.

The Query runs for 35 min and update ~2200 rows with correct results. This seems very slow so im probably doing something inoptimal. What can I do to speed it up?

update parcels

set water_or_wetland_area = sub.area_m2

from parcels,
     (select parcels.parcel_id, sum(round(st_area(st_intersection(waterwetland.geom,
     parcel.wkb_geometry))::numeric,2)) as area_m2
     from parcel,
         (select (st_dump(st_union(st_union(water.wkb_geometry,
         from water, wetland
         ) as waterwetland
     where st_intersects(waterwetland.geom, parcels.wkb_geometry)
     group by parcel.parcel_id) as sub     
where parcels.parcel_id = sub.parcel_id

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


If you want to be efficient with geometries, you should always think about the indexes.

The first think is to be sure that you have an index on parcel:

CREATE INDEX parcels_geom_idx ON parcels USING GIST(geom);

Then create a table with the union of water and wetland:

CREATE TABLE waterwetland AS 
       st_union(water.wkb_geometry, wetland.wkb_geometry)
     ).geom as geom
 FROM water, wetland;

(I removed the second st_union, I don't understand why it is here?) That way you can create an index on it:

CREATE INDEX waterwetland_geom_idx ON waterwetland USING GIST(geom);

Don't forget to analyze to be sure the planner know about your table (especially if you do this inside a script):

ANALYZE waterwetland;
ANALYZE parcels;

Lastly, updates in postgresql are a little slow (because it does actually a lot of things) so if you really need speed and your table is not too big you can simply create another table:

    parcels.parcel_id as parcel_id, 
    sum(round(st_area(st_intersection(waterwetland.geom,parcels.wkb_geometry))::numeric,2)) as area_m2
  parcels, waterwetland
 WHERE st_intersects(waterwetland.geom, parcels.wkb_geometry)
 GROUP BY parcel.parcel_id
) as req
ON parcels.parcel_id=req.parcel_id;

(untested code, but I think this should be the idea)

  • Thank you I will try your suggestions! For example im pretty sure I have no index. I union twice because the first union just "merged" the geometries together without dissolving overlapping polygons. So i added a second union to dissolve them. I might be wrong!
    – BERA
    Oct 26, 2018 at 12:56
  • Maybe your geom are multipolygon then, I don't use them much so it might be how it does unions with it... Anyways, if the waterwetland is too long to create you can try to add an index on each tables before (don't forget to analyze) Oct 26, 2018 at 14:08
  • if your data is changing (updates/deletes) also think about Vacuuming your indexed data postgresql.org/docs/9.3/static/sql-vacuum.html
    – Mapperz
    Oct 26, 2018 at 14:35

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