Section 26a of the TVA Act
Shoreline Construction Permits
Online application and inquiries
Frequently asked questions about the new application.
What is Section 26a?
The TVA Act is the legislation passed by Congress in 1933 that established the Tennessee Valley Authority. Section 26a of that act requires that TVA approval be obtained before any construction activities can be carried out that affect navigation, flood control or public lands along the shoreline of the TVA lakes or in the Tennessee River or its tributaries.
What is the purpose of Section 26a?
Section 26a is designed to ensure that construction along the shoreline and in waters of the Tennessee River system does not have a negative effect on the agency’s management of the river system. Likewise, any construction should not interfere with TVA's ability to carry out what the TVA Act describes as the “unified development and regulation of the Tennessee River.”
TVA reviews over 2,500 construction proposals annually to ensure that shoreline construction activities are compatible with all aspects of TVA's integrated management of the river system, including flood control, navigation, land use, recreation, power generation and water quality.
Permit approvals for construction under Section 26a are considered federal actions and are therefore subject to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and other federal laws.
What types of construction projects need approval?
Typical structures and projects that require TVA approval include boat docks, piers, boat ramps, shoreline or stream bank stabilization, bridges, culverts, commercial marinas, barge terminals and mooring cells, water intake and sewage outfalls, and fill or construction within the river floodplain. View more information at Minor Construction Projects and Major Construction Projects.
Section 26a regulations apply to both the location of construction projects and the types of activities carried out. Permits are not required for certain types of activities. See Regulations.
Where do Section 26a regulations apply?
The regulations apply to the entire Tennessee River watershed. The watershed is divided into seven sections, each overseen by a TVA Regional Watershed Office that issues permits for shoreline construction activities in its area. View a map of the watershed showing the seven divisions.
Construction permits are needed for both on-reservoir and off-reservoir activities:
- On-reservoir activities are those that occur in, across or along TVA reservoirs and regulated rivers and streams in the TVA region. Regulated rivers and streams are located downstream of TVA dams and are directly impacted by the operation of the dams.
- Off-reservoir activities are those that occur on all other perennial rivers and streams in the Tennessee River watershed. The construction standards outlined on this site do not apply to off-reservoir activities, which are considered on a case-by-case basis.
What other permits are required?
Other permit approvals may be required. These include U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 and Section 10 permits, and state water quality certification Section 401 permits (see links, top right).
How do I apply for a permit?
See How to Apply for detailed instructions.
Note: Site specific conditions may impact the review and approval of your application. Applying does not guarantee approval. Contact your local regional watershed office for more information and clarification.