A Homeowner’s Guide to Shoreline Construction Permits

At TVA, our goal is to protect the shoreline of the Tennessee River watershed while supporting recreational access to the waters we all enjoy. That’s why Section 26a of the TVA Act requires that a permit be attained before any shoreline construction activities—such as building a dock or stabilizing the shoreline—begin.

TVA must be able to ensure that your project is in alignment with our integrated management of the river for multiple public benefits, which include recreation, flood control, navigation, power generation and water quality. The Section 26a permitting process—explained in the video below—helps us do that.

About the Process

With a complete application the process takes up to 100 days to complete. The fee for new construction is typically $500; the fee to re-issue a permit to a new property owner is usually $250. (See our Shoreline Construction Frequently Asked Questions for more information about change of ownership.)

You can apply through the mail by downloading the application forms and sending them to the TVA Regional Watershed Office that covers your reservoir.

For a detailed walk-through of the Section 26a application process, see our Application Instructions. Or, to find out more about Section 26a and how it applies to your situation, read our Shoreline Construction FAQ.

Are you exempt? Probably not. However, some projects located upstream of the control or influence of TVA’s operation or management of the reservoir system need not apply. Click here to read TVA’s rule regarding these exemptions.

Is your dock grandfathered?  Maybe. But you still need to apply to TVA for approval to make any changes to the permitted facilities or shoreline alterations. And if you just bought, the property, you need to apply to TVA to obtain a permit in your name. For more information about Section 26a permits and buying and selling water front property see the links at the right.

PLEASE NOTE: You may also need additional permits from your state’s water quality office. If you need a permit from your state’s water quality office, TVA may not be able to issue your 26a permit until you obtain that permit or a waiver. Please contact your state's water quality office early in the process to minimize delays in receiving your 26a permit. Find a list of state water quality resources on our FAQ page. You may also contact your TVA Regional Watershed Office for more information.

Buying or Selling Waterfront Property

Are you buying and/or selling waterfront property? Are you a real estate agent? We have special resources designed to help you navigate the Section 26a permitting process before any transaction takes place. Go to our sellers and buyers page.

Major Projects

If your project has commercial, industrial or recreational aspects, you will also need a 26a permit before you begin shoreline construction. To start the application process, contact the Public Lands Information Center at 800-882-5263 or [email protected]

Floating Cabins   

New floating cabins and expansions of existing floating cabins are prohibited on TVA’s reservoirs. Floating cabins that existed prior to December 16, 2016, may remain if they meet health, safety, and environmental standards developed by TVA, apply and receive a permit, and pay required fees. TVA has issued Proposed Phase II Rule Amendments with health, safety, and environmental standards for public review. Read the rules here.

Contact Us

For more information or clarification, email us at [email protected], call us at 800-882-5263 or contact your TVA Regional Watershed Office.