Section 26a of the TVA Act
TVA's jurisdiction under Section 26a of the TVA Act is implemented through Section 26a regulations (18 C.F.R. part 1304). To view the Main Index 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 local regional watershed office.
Section 26a regulation applies to both the location of construction projects and the types of activities carried out.
Location. The regulations apply to anything built 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. TVAs jurisdiction thus extends to the limits of the Tennessee River watershed. Along regulated rivers (tailwaters) and TVA reservoirs, that jurisdiction applies to the limits of the 500-year floodplain or to the upper limits of TVA flowage rights, whichever is higher. Along off-reservoir, unregulated streams and rivers, jurisdiction is typically applied to the limits of the 100-year floodplain.
Types of construction projects. 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 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.
Certain activities within or along 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. Activities may still require local, state, or federal permits. See 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 the appropriate TVA Watershed Team member first!
- Removal of materials such as trees, tree stumps, brush, or sand and gravel from a streambed is not construction of an obstruction unless the material removed is piled in or along the stream, river, or reservoir in such a way as to create an obstruction.
- Excavation (dredging) of a new channel or enlargement of an existing channel is not construction of an obstruction unless it involves blocking, restricting, or draining the old channel.
- Excavation of a trench for a submarine sewer, telephone, or other utility line, in which the trench is backfilled to the original contour and is located outside the area of a marked navigation channel, does not create an obstruction. (TVA approval is required for all utilities buried in or under marked navigation channels.)
- Construction on, over, or along temporary, intermittent, seasonal, or wet-weather streams or drainages does not constitute an obstruction.
- Discharges into the Tennessee River System are not obstructions unless they are made through or by an obstruction (outfall pipe, etc.) subject to TVA approval.
- Replacement of culverts of same or greater hydraulic capacity, creating no new or additional obstruction, and within the same highway alignment are not new obstructions and are to be considered maintenance activity.
- Replacement of bridges of the same or greater hydraulic capacity, creating no new or additional obstruction, and within the same highway alignment are not new obstructions and are to be considered maintenance activity.
- Directional boring under streams or rivers for the installation of utilities or pipelines where no new obstructions are permanently placed within the floodplain are not considered obstructions.
Note: All applications are subject to site specific guidelines. Applying does not guarantee approval. Contact your local watershed team for further information and clarification.