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26a Construction Standards

Nonnavigable Houseboats


Any new houseboat that does not comply with the following criteria will be considered a nonnavigable houseboat and may not be moored, anchored, installed, or operated on any part of the Tennessee River system or its tributaries. To be considered navigable, the vessel must:

  • Be built on a boat hull or on two or more pontoons
  • Be equipped with a motor and rudder controls located at a point on the houseboat from which there is forward visibility over a 180° range
  • Be compliant with all applicable state and federal requirements relating to vessels
  • Be registered as a vessel in the state of principal use
  • Have state registration numbers clearly displayed.

Mooring locations

Nonnavigable houseboats approved by TVA prior to February 15, 1978 are considered existing nonnavigable houseboats and may remain on TVA reservoirs provided they remain in compliance with the standards presented here. Such houseboats must be moored within the designated and approved harbor limits of a commercial marina. Alternatively, such houseboats may be moored to the bank of the reservoir at locations where the nonnavigable houseboat owner is the owner of the adjoining property at the mooring location and has obtained written approval from TVA authorizing mooring at that location. All nonnavigable houseboats must be moored in such a manner as to:

  • Avoid obstruction of or interference with navigation, flood control, public lands or reservations
  • Avoid adverse effects on public lands or reservations;
  • Prevent the preemption of public waters when moored in permanent locations outside of the approved harbor limits of commercial marinas;
  • Protect land and land rights owned by the United States alongside and subjacent to TVA reservoirs from trespass and other unlawful and unreasonable uses
  • Maintain, protect, and enhance the quality of the human environment.

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All approved nonnavigable houseboats must be equipped as follows with a properly installed and operating marine sanitation device (MSD) or sewage holding tanks and pump-out capability.

  • Nonnavigable houseboats moored on “discharge reservoirs” must be equipped with a Type I or Type II MSD.
  • Nonnavigable houseboats moored in “no-discharge reservoirs” must be equipped with holding tanks and pump-out capability. If a nonnavigable houseboat moored in a no-discharge reservoir is equipped with a Type I or Type II MSD, it must be secured to prevent discharge into the reservoir.

Repairs and expansion

Approved nonnavigable houseboats must be maintained in a good state of repair. They may be structurally repaired or rebuilt without additional approval from TVA, but may not be structurally modified to increase their length, width, or height.

Numbering and transfer of ownership

All approved nonnavigable houseboats must display a number assigned by TVA. The owner must paint or attach a facsimile of the number on a readily visible part of the outside of the facility in numbers at least three inches high.

The transferee of any nonnavigable houseboat approved under these regulations must report the transfer to TVA within 30 days of the transfer transaction.

A nonnavigable houseboat moored at a location approved under these regulations must not be relocated and moored at a different location without prior approval by TVA, except for movement to new locations within the designated harbor limits of a commercial dock or marina.

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