TVA's jurisdiction under Section 26a of the TVA Act applies to both the location of construction projects and the types of activities carried out. TVA’s jurisdiction is implemented through Section 26a regulations (18 C.F.R. part 1304) and the Shoreline Management Policy.
To view a summary of the Section 26a regulations click here. TVA also adopts guidance for consistent implementation of Section 26a regulations. This guidance can be viewed here. For additional assistance in interpreting the Section 26a regulations and guidance contact your TVA Regional Watershed Office.
TVA’s Section 26a jurisdiction applies at locations across, along or in the Tennessee River or any of its tributaries. A tributary is any watercourse whose contents, if not obstructed, diverted or consumed, will ultimately flow into the Tennessee River. TVA’s jurisdiction thus extends to the limits of the Tennessee River watershed. On TVA reservoirs that jurisdiction typically applies to the limits of the 500-year floodplain or to the upper limits of TVA flowage rights, whichever is higher. On-reservoir locations generally equates to the area where TVA has obtained land and/or land rights. On regulated river and stream reaches where TVA has not obtained land or land rights and on all unregulated tributary streams, that jurisdiction typically applies to the limits of the 100-year floodplain.
With regard to the range of construction and development activities along the shoreline, Section 26a regulation is limited to plans for the construction of obstructions affecting navigation, flood control or public lands. An obstruction is generally “any man-made physical condition that during its continuance after completion impounds, checks, hinders, restricts, retards, diverts or otherwise interferes with the movement of water or of objects on or in the water.” Whether an obstruction requires a permit depends, to some extent, on its location. Obstructions across, along or in the Tennessee River, TVA reservoirs and stream reaches downstream of TVA dams require a Section 26a permit. Obstructions across, along or in tributary reaches that are upstream of the influence of a TVA reservoir operations may not require a permit. Read more about the obstructions or activities that do not require a Section 26a permit below.
TVA has determined that certain obstructions because of their location, the nature of their construction or both do not interfere with TVA’s operation or management of the reservoir system and therefore do not require a Section 26a permit. This has generally occurred across, along or in certain tributary stream reaches that are upstream of the control or influence of TVA’s reservoir system operations. You can read TVA’s rule regarding these locations and obstructions here. For more information about these locations and obstructions contact your local regional watershed office. Construction of these obstructions may still require other local, state or federal permits.
Other activities across, along or in the Tennessee River are not considered obstructions and therefore do not require a TVA Section 26a permit if they are conducted on privately-owned land. These activities may still require local, state or federal permits. See the list of activities below.
Please note, however, that permission must be obtained from TVA before conducting any activities on TVA land. If you are planning an activity on TVA land, contact your local TVA Regional Watershed Office first.