Floating Houses

In April 2014 TVA initiated an environmental review of floating houses and nonnavigable houseboats mooring on TVA reservoirs.

In April 2014 TVA initiated an environmental review of floating houses and nonnavigable houseboats mooring on TVA reservoirs.

image of floating house

The Concern

The number of these structures has increased. TVA initiated the review out of concern for safety, sanitation, water quality, and the use of public lands and reservoirs.

Currently, over 1,800 floating houses and nonnavigable houseboats are on the reservoirs. About half of those have TVA nonnavigable houseboat permits.

TVA regulations prohibit nonnavigable houseboats except for those in existence before February 15, 1978.  Section 26a of the TVA Act gives TVA jurisdiction to regulate obstructions that affect navigation, flood control, or public lands across, along, or in the Tennessee River or any of its tributaries.

Learn more about the Section 26a permitting regulation and process.

Learn more about the TVA Land Policy.




Floating House


Floating House


Nonnavigable Houseboat










Type of Use









Environmental Impact Statement

On April 30, 2014, TVA published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to complete an environmental impact statement (EIS), in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to review the growth in the Tennessee River Watershed of floating houses and nonnavigable houseboats designed and used primarily for human habitation and the potential management actions TVA may take in response to the proliferation of these structures. The EIS will assist TVA with determining whether new management policies, minimum standards, and rule updates are needed.

In May and June 2014, TVA conducted 5 public meetings during a 90-day public scoping period to get input from the public and stakeholders on concerns, relevant issues, and potential management actions. In February 2015, TVA issued the Floating Houses Policy Review EIS Scoping Reportwhich summarizes the comments brought forward during the scoping period.

TVA has completed a Draft EIS to assess the impacts associated with TVA’s management and oversight of these structures. The Draft EIS is now available for review. TVA invites the public and other stakeholders to review the Draft EIS and provide comments during a 60-day review period. TVA will accept comments on the Draft EIS until August 25, 2015.

PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Floating Houses Policy Review Draft Environmental Impact Statement(PDF 8.9 mb)

Executive Summary (PDF 1mb)

Comments may be submitted at the public meetings, by mail to Matthew Higdon at the address below, or by email to fh@tva.govComments may also be submitted online.


Upcoming Public Meetings

See public meeting map and schedule regarding the draft EIS.

TVA will host a Floating Houses webinar on August 12, 2015 at 3:00 pm EDT.

Next Steps

After reviewing and considering the public’s input on the Draft EIS, TVA plans to complete the Final EIS in late 2015. Any decisions to change management policy and rules would likely happen in 2016.

If a management alternative is selected requiring updated regulations, TVA would initiate a rulemaking process to revise its Section 26a regulations to establish the new policy as well as new standards and minimum requirements to address environmental and safety concerns (e.g., electrical, sewage, mooring practices). The rulemaking process would be initiated at the same time the Final EIS is released.

Related Documents


For more information about the environmental review or to request a printed or digital copy of the documents, contact:

Matthew Higdon
NEPA Specialist

(865) 632-8051
400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT 11D
Knoxville, TN 37902