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Public and Private Water Use Facilities

1.0 Purpose

This guideline clarifies TVA’s operational classification of multiple-slip water-use facilities based on public or private use of the facility and the associated maximum allowable facility footprint and harbor limits associated with these uses.

2.0 Public and Private Use of Water-Use Facilities

TVA manages the reservoir for multiple uses, including recreation access for private and public use. In 1999, TVA implemented a Shoreline Management Policy (SMP) based on the Shoreline Management Initiative adopted by the Board of Directors. SMP established new standards for construction of facilities along the reservoir. The construction standards manage the density and size of shoreline structures in order to protect important natural resources and preserve public benefits while allowing reasonable access to the water. These standards were incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations, 18 CFR Part 1304, in 2003.

When permitting multiple-slip water-use facilities, TVA considers whether the use of the facility will be public or private. Public facilities, such as commercial marinas, provide open access to the general public (not limited by membership or dues) whereas private facilities do not. The construction standards of the SMP are used in permitting private, non-commercial facilities.

Water-use facilities can be divided into four broad categories based on use, general amenities provided, and access: (1) private, individual facilities, (2) community facilities, (3) private waterfront clubs, and (4) public or commercial marinas. The fundamental difference among these types of facilities is the access provided to the general public. Marinas are generally the only facilities which provide open access to the general public; whereas, the other types provide private (exclusive) use by the property owner or club member(s) and their guests. Private waterfront clubs may include, but are not limited to yacht clubs, sailing clubs, and corporate recreation areas serving company employees.

Private water-use facilities (such as individual or community facilities) are limited in size based on Section 26a Regulations (Sections 1304.204, 1304.206, and 1304.300). When determining the size and number of slips allowed for a private community facility, TVA considers the provisions of Section 1304.206(b). See the guideline governing community water-use facilities for more information on the determination of the maximum footprint. Facilities requested by private waterfront clubs are issued approvals based on these standards for community water-use facilities.

Requests for facilities open to the general public, such as commercial marinas, must also comply with relevant Section 26a regulations; however they are not limited to a maximum allowable footprint, but rather are generally issued harbor limits based on Section 1304.404. Harbor limits are generally associated with larger facilities per shoreline length as compared to private facilities.

3.0 Definitions

The definitions of and general guidance for permitting water-use facilities for these three broad types of facilities (marinas, private community, and private waterfront clubs) are listed below.


  • An operation on the waterfront available for public use without associated membership fees or dues for access to amenities. These facilities may also be referred to as “commercial marinas.” The associated amenities (such as water access, fueling, sanitary sewage pump-out, etc) may be provided to the public for a fee.
  • TVA issues harbor limits for commercial marinas according to Section 1304.404

Private Community Facilities

  • Available for private use by adjoining and/or backlying property owners (owners who have legal interest in the lot).
  • TVA issues Section 26a permits for community facilities (1) when it is determined that physical or environmental constraints prohibit individual facilities and (2) at jointly-owned community outlots.
  • Requests for private community facilities must comply with Section 1304.206 and the guideline governing community water-use facilities.

Private Waterfront Club (yacht clubs, sailing clubs, recreational boating clubs, etc.)

  • Available for private (restricted or exclusive) use by members only and their guests, generally through required membership dues and fees.
  • Applications for water-use facilities from Private Waterfront Clubs with no existing, approved harbor limits are considered a private use and are reviewed based on Section 26a Regulations and the guideline governing community water-use facilities.
  • Requests from Private Clubs with existing, approved harbor limits are reviewed based on the existing harbor limits and any new land acquired outside those harbor limits. TVA considers Section 1304.206 and the guideline governing community water-use facilities when approving requests for facilities for private waterfront clubs outside of existing harbor limits (see Path Forward below).

4.0 Path Forward for existing Private Waterfront Clubs

TVA recognizes harbor limits may have been issued in the past to private waterfront clubs. Existing, approved harbor limits and facilities will be honored by TVA. Harbor limits and approved facilities are based on the last, valid Section 26a permit(s). Requests to expand facilities within the existing harbor limits will be reviewed by TVA. Section 1304.206 and the guideline governing community water-use facilities do not apply to these requests within existing harbor limits. However, TVA retains the right to reconfigure these harbor limits based on changes in circumstances, including changes in land ownership (Section 1304.404).

Requests from existing private clubs for facility expansions outside of existing harbor limits or where additional shoreline has been acquired outside existing harbor limits will be reviewed based on Section 1304.206 and the guideline governing community water-use facilities. In general, additional harbor limits will not be established for any new facilities approved. 

An applicant who wishes to exceed the maximum allowable facility footprint based on Section 1304.206 and the guideline governing community water-use facilities may apply for approval of a commercial marina provided such an application is supported in the relevant land plan and the proposal is consistent with TVA’s Commercial Recreation Guidance. If the applicant is not willing to agree to be a commercial marina (a marina must be open to the general public and it may entail a land use agreement that requires annual payment to TVA), then Section 1304.206 and the guideline governing community water-use facilities will still apply.