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Section 26a of the TVA Act

Shoreline Management Policy (SMP) Waiver Guidance


This guidance is used to implement TVA’s Section 26a regulation § 1304.212 Waivers. This rule provides for a waiver of the standards of Subpart C TVA-owned Residential Access Shoreland. 



In 1999, the TVA Board adopted a Shoreline Management Policy (SMP) based on the Shoreline Management Initiative (SMI) Environmental Impact Statement. The policy established new standards for construction of facilities and vegetation management along the reservoir. These standards were incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations, 18 CFR Part 1304, in 2003. A waiver provision was established (§ 1304.212) in order to allow deviations from the SMP standards if the shoreline had been developed prior to November 1999 and the proposal is compatible with surrounding permitted structures and uses. Waivers to the construction standards contained in Subpart C may be approved by TVA in certain limited conditions as contemplated by SMI. When approving waivers TVA considers the uses permitted under the guidelines followed by TVA before November 1, 1999 and the prevailing permitted practice in subdivision or immediate vicinity.

To ensure consistent implementation of the waiver provision, TVA developed guidance for use in the approval of waivers to the SMP standards.  When evaluating whether a waiver can be considered TVA uses the SMP Waiver Worksheet (Table 1) along with consideration of the uses permitted prior to November 1, 1999 (Table 2).

Table 1.  SMP Waiver Worksheet

1. Does the request comply with the Shoreline Management Policy standards?

□ No (continue with Question 2)

□ Yes (proceed with review of application)    

2. Is the applicant’s property in a subdivision?

□ No (continue with Question 3a)

□ Yes (continue with Question 3b)

3a. Is the property within 1/4 mile radius of a location where a facility was permitted prior to 11/1/99?

□ No (contact applicant to modify request)

□ Yes (property is eligible for waiver - continue with Question #4)

3b. Is the property in a subdivision where facilities were permitted prior to 11/1/99?

□ No (contact applicant to modify request)

□ Yes (property is eligible for a waiver - continue with Question #4)

4.  Does the request comply with the Pre-SMP Guidelines (see Table 2)?

□ No (continue with #5)

□ Yes (proposed facility is eligible for waiver; proceed with review of application)

5. Does the request comply with prevailing permitted practices on surrounding lots? (Prevailing permitted practices means that the requested facility is similar in size or design to at least 51% of the facilities permitted by TVA within the subject subdivision or within 1/4 mile of the proposed structure location if not within a subdivision.)

□ No (contact applicant to modify request)

□ Yes (proposed facility is eligible for waiver; proceed with review of application)



Table 2.  Pre-Shoreline Management Policy Guidelines.  If the proposed structure or use to be approved under the waiver provision is not addressed herein, then the standards of Subpart C TVA-owned Residential Access Shoreland apply.

Docks (Piers) and Open Slips

  • Docks, boatslips, piers, and fixed or floating boathouses are allowable. These and other water use facilities associated with a lot must be sited within a 1,800 square foot rectangle or square area (unless prevailing practice is larger) at the lake ward end of the access walkway that extends from the shore to the structure. The walkway to the water use structure is not included in calculating the 1,800 square foot area.  
  • In navigation restricted areas only, a 10-foot-wide by 40-foot-long boardwalk parallel to the shoreline may be permitted.
  • It may be necessary, particularly in coves, to angle the facility in front of a neighbor's view shed because of space limitations.
  • Floating dock platforms should be attached to the shore with a walkway whenever possible. If unattached, they must be anchored to the bank within 25 feet of the water's edge as the reservoir fluctuates. It may be necessary, particularly in coves, to angle the facility in front of a neighbor's view shed because of space limitations.
  • In congested areas, it may be necessary to establish special permit conditions requiring dry-docking of floating structures at a specific elevation to prevent these structures from interfering with navigation, boating access, or adjacent structures.
  • Walkways from shore to the dock, pier or boathouse shall not exceed six feet in width.
  • Second stories on covered docks, piers, boatslips, or boathouses may be constructed as open decks with railing, but shall not be covered by a roof or enclosed with siding or screening.
  • Covered docks, boatslips, and boathouses shall not exceed one story in height.

Enclosed Storage Space

  • The enclosed space may be up to 32 square feet and located either on land or on an approved dock, pier, or other water use facility may be permitted.

Vegetation Management

  • Clearing of vegetation that is less than three inches in diameter at four feet high may be approved.

Walkways, Steps, and Landings

  • Walkways, steps, and landings must be installed in such a way that they will not restrict pedestrian access across the land by the public. Handrails are permitted only where needed for safety reasons (such as steep slopes) and shall not impede or restrict public access.

Land-Based Shelters for Storage of Recreational Watercraft and Accessories on TVA Land

  • Unenclosed boat shelters on land must be located above the limits of the 100-year floodplain and have no sides and no completely enclosed floor space in excess of 32-square feet. Wire mesh or similar screening is permissible.
  • The structure may be used solely for the storage of boating accessories and no more than two vessels.
  • Enclosed dry-land boathouses or boat garages are not permitted on TVA land.


  • Only driveways directly serving recreational boat launching ramps shall be considered on TVA land.

Shoreline Stabilization

  • TVA will permit riprap or retaining walls where there is active shoreline erosion as determined by TVA and where other methods are determined by TVA to be impractical or ineffective. When the severity of the erosion and the physical conditions warrant an engineered solution, riprap is preferred over retaining walls.

Terraces, Covered or Uncovered Patios, and Gazebos

  • The applicant is required to evaluate alternatives for placement of these facilities on the adjacent private property and above the 100-year floodplain.
  • If justification exists for placement of the facilities on TVA land, the facilities must not have side enclosures (except screen wire or mesh).
  • Patios or Gazebos must be no greater than 400 square feet in area on TVA land.



Note: Site specific conditions may impact the review and approval of your application. Applying does not guarantee approval. Contact your local regional watershed office for more information and clarification.


Quick Index to Regulations


Subpart A: Procedures for Approval

Subpart B: Nonnavigable Houseboats

Subpart C: TVA Residential Shoreland

Subpart D: Flowage Easement Shoreland

Subpart E: Miscellaneous



Main Index


Index to additional guidance for implementing TVA's Section 26a Regulations


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