Section 26a of the TVA Act
Section 26a Permits for Water Intakes
To provide information regarding the review and approval of water intake structures for temporary, emergency, or permanent use in the Tennessee River and its tributaries.
2. New Section 26a Permits
Water intake structures are obstructions requiring TVA approval under Section 26a of the TVA Act. All permits for water intake structures will include special conditions and requirements for water withdrawals. The conditions regulate the withdrawal rate and, in some cases, may limit approved uses and require compensation for loss in power benefits. Permit conditions including the extraction limitation and reporting requirements are tracked by TVA’s Water Supply program.
If, during routine activities, a water intake is identified that does not have TVA approval, the structure is in violation of the Section 26a regulations and the situation will be handled through the violation and encroachment process. Any permitting action regarding the violation will be handled in the same way as a new permit and will involve TVA’s Water Supply program in the permit review and decision.
3. Modification of Existing Permits to Reflect Changes to Water Intake Structures
The person or entity holding a permit for a water intake structure may decide to make physical changes to the water intake structure. As in any case where changes are proposed for a permitted obstruction, the permit holder must apply for and obtain a new permit from TVA approving the proposed changes. New conditions and requirements may be included by TVA on the new permit. Applicants should review carefully all conditions of the permit.
4. Modification of Existing Permits to Reflect Changes in Water Withdrawal Rate or Use
The person or entity holding a permit for a water intake structure may request to change the rate of withdrawal or the use of the water (e.g., begin an inter-basin transfer). Such changes may come to the attention of TVA by notification from the permit holder, during routine review of permitted facilities, or through other means. If there is an associated physical change in the obstruction, a permit modification should be applied for and processed as discussed above. If there is no associated physical change in the obstruction, the Regional Watershed Office will discuss the situation with Water Supply to determine whether a new Section 26a permit is required. If Water Supply determines that a new permit is required, the Regional Watershed Office will set up a meeting with the applicant and include the Water Supply representative to explain the situation. Interbasin transfers of water may require TVA Board of Directors approval.
5. Temporary Water Intake Structures for Agricultural and Irrigation Uses
TVA determines whether a 26a permit is required for temporary withdrawals or extractions of water for agricultural and irrigation purposes on a case-by-case basis. However, since the amount of water that must remain in streams for aquatic habitat or other purposes is primarily regulated by the individual Valley states, any such requests should first be directed to the appropriate state permitting authorities.
If the state in which the extraction is to take place approves or concurs in writing to TVA that the temporary withdrawal or extraction of water is acceptable to that particular state, then TVA will make a determination as to whether a 26a permit is required from TVA. TVA's decision on the need for a 26a permit will be based on a number of factors including (but not limited to) the state's approval, location of extraction, purpose, extraction amount, duration, environmental impacts, operational impacts, and other potential case-specific considerations.
6. Emergency Municipal Water Intake Requests
As with temporary intakes for agricultural and irrigation purposes, TVA will determine whether a 26a permit is required for emergency municipal water withdrawals on a case-by-case basis. Temporary, emergency municipal water intakes differ from those requested for agricultural irrigation in that the municipal water intakes have generally already been permitted by the states and possibly TVA.
Since the amount of water that must remain in streams for aquatic habitat or other purposes is primarily regulated by the individual Valley states, any requests for emergency municipal withdrawals should first be directed to the appropriate state permitting authorities. If the state in which the emergency intake is proposed approves or concurs in writing to TVA that the water intake is acceptable (a municipality may provide a State withdrawal permit to show that their proposal has been approved), TVA will determine whether the intake is temporary or permanent. TVA's decision will be based primarily on the type structure proposed, the length of time the structure is proposed to be in use, and the nature of permanent modifications to the system proposed to meet continuing intake needs. Other situation specific factors may be considered as well. (NOTE: The decision between temporary and permanent is a decision on whether or not TVA has jurisdiction, not an evaluation of the potential impacts of the proposal.) TVA’s Regional Watershed Office will coordinate all emergency municipal water intake requests with the Water Supply program.