Application Instructions

TVA continues to receive a large volume of shoreline construction permit requests. The high number of projects and the required federal regulations have slowed the process beyond the typical 100 day timeline to receive a final permit. Please be aware of this as you submit your request.

Application Steps

Determine what zone your project is in.

Generally, locations that are allocated as a Zone 1–-Non-TVA Shoreland or Zone 7-- Shoreline Access are eligible for residential shoreline construction. Using the map below (instructions), you can type in the address of your project and determine if it is a Zone 1 (blue) or if the neighboring TVA property is a Zone 7 (yellow).

Please note: Proximity to a Zone 1 or Zone 7 does not guarantee approval for construction. Many factors go into TVA’s decision to approve an application, including the impacts of the proposed construction or activity on the environment or TVA’s programmatic interests and compliance with TVA’s regulations. The only way to know for sure what you can construct is to apply for a Section 26a permit.

View larger map         View example of zones 1 and 7

  Zone 1    
  Zone 7       Click the double arrow icon in the top-left of the map to view the full legend.

Review the regulations applicable to your project.

TVA’s 26a regulations contain construction standards for many activities as well as other requirements pertaining to the application process. You can view TVA’s regulations here.

If you’re planning a project on the Clinch River, Hiwassee River, Tellico River, French Broad or Holston River, special construction standards may apply to you. Access them below:

Establish whether you’re on-reservoir or off-reservoir.

On-reservoir activities include Section 26a permit requests across, along or in TVA reservoirs where water elevations are influenced by the operation of any dam. On-reservoir areas will generally equate to the areas where TVA has obtained land and/or land rights.

Off-reservoir activities include Section 26a permit requests on all other perennial rivers and streams in the Tennessee River Watershed. Off-reservoir areas will generally equate to the areas upstream of the influence of any TVA dam as well as downstream of TVA dams where TVA has not obtained land and/or land rights.

Uncertain? Contact the appropriate TVA Regional Watershed Office for more assistance

You will need to fill out the Joint Application Form & Applicant Disclosure Form. Use this checklist to ensure that you have the correct information.

Pursuant to federal regulations, applicants are required to reimburse TVA for the cost of processing a Section 26a permit application (18 C.F.R. Part 1310). This practice ensures that the people who directly benefit from the permit are responsible for the cost of the service provided. TVA has implemented an application fee schedule to facilitate this reimbursement.

These fees are based on the cost to TVA of providing this service. Paying the fee does not guarantee approval of the permit, and the fee will not be refunded if the application is not approved.

A single permit application may include more than one construction activity at the same location for a single fee (e.g., a dock and bank stabilization). If another application is later made for additional activities or to modify previous permits, a separate fee will be charged for each new application.


On-reservoir application fee for docks, boathouses or other minor shoreline alterations and on-reservoir application fee for change in ownership of existing permitted facilities (must be built and compliant with previous permit and plans). If it is determined that your request does meet the requirements for a change in ownership, TVA will issue you a $250 refund.


On-reservoir application fee for major shoreline alterations such as marinas, community facilities, barge terminals, and bridges. Major applications typically will require payment of fees beyond the initial application fee. Major applications must be submitted with a signed Section 26a Cost Recovery Acknowledgment form.


Application fee for minor or major shoreline alterations such as docks, launching ramps, culverts, and bridges on streams downstream of TVA dams (regulated rivers and streams). Major applications typically will require payment of fees beyond the initial application fee. Major applications must be submitted with a signed Section 26a Cost Recovery Acknowledgment form.

Off-reservoir application fee for new construction, minor alterations to existing construction, or change in ownership of permitted facilities.$250
Shoreline stabilization & other types of projects (see below).No fee

TVA waives application fees for certain types of projects, such as applications requesting only shoreline stabilization or fish attractors, state DOT projects, county or municipal road projects, NRCS partnership projects, marina sewage pump out facilities, and public purpose projects. Waiver of fees is at TVA’s discretion. When a federal agency provides financial assistance such as a fee waiver to a public or private entity, it is the responsibility of that entity to ensure that such assistance is not used in a discriminatory manner. Your request must be in substantial compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

In some instances, the size or scope of a project may require additional fees; if this applies to your project, TVA will contact you. Additionally, a project may require site specific work such as special biological studies, archeological studies or advanced environmental reviews that are not covered by the application fee. If it is determined that detailed work is required, TVA will contact you. Requests for the major shoreline alterations noted in table above must be submitted with a signed Section 26a Cost Recovery Acknowledgment form.

You’ll need to make a drawing for each facility or activity you are proposing. We’ve provided a library of downloadable drawings for common types of facilities and activities—including boat slips, docks and boathouses as well as shoreline stabilization and vegetation management projects. Your drawing(s) should meet the following criteria:

  • Be prepared on paper suitable for reproduction (8-1/2 by 11 inches)
  • Identify the kind of structure and its purpose or intended use
  • Show the principal dimensions, size and location in relation to the shoreline and adjacent property boundaries
  • Show the height of the structure above the water
  • Show both the plan view (the project as viewed from above) and the elevation view (the project as viewed from the side).
  • Indicate the river or reservoir name, river mile, locator landmarks and direction of water flow, if known.

Provide a map that clearly shows the location of the proposed facility. An 8.5- by 11-inch copy of one of the following is ideal: a subdivision or tax parcel map, a portion of a U.S. Geological Survey topographic map or a portion of an online map. Be sure to include your subdivision name and lot number if applicable. Also include the map number or name, if available. Contact the appropriate TVA Regional Watershed Office for more assistance or if you have questions about the location of your project.

You’ll need at least one photograph of the property that shows the location of the proposed structures or alterations along the adjacent shoreline (a photo of existing facilities is also helpful, and necessary if you’re applying for a transfer). Note: Applications without photos may be returned.

Review this checklist to make sure you have included all the required information. Be sure to include the correct application fee.

Address your application to the appropriate TVA Regional Watershed Office, and drop your package in the mail.

Once your application is received, we will review it to make sure it is complete and that the correct fee is included. TVA will contact you about your application, let you know if additional information is needed and will usually conduct a site visit as part of the review process. For minor construction activities we strive to issue permits within 100 days. If the application is not complete or other delays occur, the review will take longer. Other delays include modifications to the project after the application was submitted, potential impacts to sensitive resources, TVA’s programmatic interests (navigation, flood control, etc.) or unresolved violations and encroachments. Projects that require a land use agreement with TVA also take longer to issue.

NOTE: Site-specific conditions may impact the review and approval of your application. Applying does not guarantee approval. TVA may change its application fees and/or its Section 26a rules and procedures from time to time. Contact your local TVA Regional Watershed Office for more information and clarification.