Application Instructions

TVA’s Regional Watershed Offices are currently closed to the public. At this time, submission of electronic Section 26a applications is preferred. Email your completed application forms and plans to applyfor26a@tva.gov. Please check your spam/junk email folder for reply communications from TVA.

Welcome! Thank you for your partnership in protecting the Valley’s land and water resources by learning about TVA’s Section 26a permitting process. 

Your property’s eligibility for a Section 26a permit is based on deeded land rights and other considerations. Before you go any further, we’ve made it easy for you to first determine whether you are eligible to apply. 

TVA manages approximately 293,000 acres of public land, and our Reservoir Land Management Plans systematically identify the most suitable use of public lands under TVA’s stewardship. In some cases, the best use of the TVA public land has been determined to be protection of natural resources and wildlife habitat or for dispersed recreation.

Determine if you are eligible to apply

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 Land Planning Interactive Viewer Map below, you can type in your location address 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

How to Use the Interactive Map Viewer

Video tutorial

Once you have determined you are eligible to apply, you’re ready to begin the application. We’ve created a short tutorial video to walk you through the process of creating your application package. Remember—submission of a complete application package helps avoid delays and allows TVA to process your request as efficiently as possible.

To apply via traditional mail, follow these simple steps:

1. 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:

 2. Make a drawing of your project.

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.

3. Identify the geographic location of your project.

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.

4. Take a picture.

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).

5. Complete the application form.

You will need to fill out the Application Form.

6. 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

7. Include the correct fee.

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.

Activity Fee

On-reservoir application fee for docks, boathouses or other minor shoreline alterations

$500
On-reservoir application fee for change in ownership of existing permitted facilities (must be built and compliant with previous permit and plans) $250
Off-reservoir application fee for new construction, minor alterations to existing construction, or change in ownership of permitted facilities $250

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.

8. Mail your application package to TVA.

Review this checklist to be sure you have included all required information. Be sure to include the correct application fee, address your application to the Address your application to the appropriate TVA Regional Watershed Office, and drop your package in the mail.

9. Let the process unfold.

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.