How to Apply for a 26a Permit

This page outlines the steps you need to take to apply for a Section 26a permit. Please note that you may apply online or mail in your application to the TVA Regional Watershed Office that handles requests for your reservoir.

You may also need additional permits from your state's office of water quality (see links at right) and/or the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). TVA and the USACE have a joint application form for your convenience.

If you need a permit from your state's water quality office, TVA may not be able to issue your 26a permit until you obtain your water quality permit or a waiver. Please contact your state's water quality office early in the process to minimize delays in receiving your 26a permit. You may also call your Regional TVA Watershed office for more information. 

To apply online, click here.

1. Review the regulations applicable to your project.

TVA's regulations contain construction standards for many activities as well as other requirements pertaining to the application process. You can review TVA's regulations here.

 2. Determine the type of project you’re undertaking.

You’ll need to make a drawing of your project to be submitted with the application form. View lists of sample drawings at one of the following pages:

Minor Construction Projects. These include boat docks, piers, boathouses, fences, steps and others.

Major Construction Projects. These include commercial marinas, community docks, barge terminals and mooring cells, utility crossings, bridges, culverts, roads, wastewater discharges, water intakes and sewage outfalls, dredging, placement of fill and others.

You may copy any of these sample designs and add your specific project dimensions, develop your own drawings or use professional engineered drawings for more complex projects.

3. Fill out the application form.

You may apply online or print out your application and mail it to TVA. A checklist is available to assist with the preparation of your application.

Apply and pay online.

The Joint Application Form and the Applicant Disclosure Form are required to submit an application.

To use the printed forms, choose one of the following: PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader, DOC files require Microsoft Word

• For the electronic version, type in the information online, then print out the completed form, and sign and date it.
ELECTRONIC Joint Application Form (DOCX, 30 kb)
ELECTRONIC Applicant Disclosure Form (DOCX, 26 kb)

• For the PDF version, first print the form, then fill it out in ink, and sign and date it.
Joint Application Form (PDF, 89 kb)
Applicant Disclosure Form (PDF, 85 kb)

The application should include a project description that indicates what is to be built, removed or modified and the sequence of the work.

4. Identify the geographic location of your project.

Provide a map that clearly shows the location of the proposed facility. An 8.5- by 11-inch copy of one of the following is ideal: a subdivision or tax parcel map, a portion of a U.S. Geological Survey topographic map or a portion of an online map. Be sure to include your subdivision name and lot number if applicable. Also include the map number or name, if available. Recent photos of the location are also helpful and should be submitted with your application. Contact the appropriate TVA regional watershed office for more assistance or if you have questions about the location of your project.

5. Include the correct fee.

See the table of fees below.

6. Submit the applicant’s package

Review this checklist to be sure you have included all required information. Mail your application to the appropriate TVA regional watershed office.

What happens after you submit your application?

Once your application is received, we will review it to make sure it is complete and that the correct fee is included. TVA will contact you about your application, let you know if additional information is needed and will usually conduct a site visit as part of the review process. For minor construction activities we strive to issue permits within two months. By their nature, major construction activities are more complicated and take longer to review. We strive to issue these permits within three to four months. If the application is not complete or other delays occur, the review will take longer. Other delays include modifications to the project after the application was submitted, potential impacts to sensitive resources or TVA’s programmatic interests (navigation, flood control, etc.) or unresolved violations and encroachments. Projects that require a land use agreement with TVA also take longer to issue. Some projects that are complex or involve substantial environmental or engineering issues may require the preparation of an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement. On these projects, TVA will meet with applicants to determine schedule and costs of project review.

TVA Permitting Fees

Pursuant to federal regulations, applicants are required to reimburse TVA for the cost of processing a Section 26a permit application (18 C.F.R. Part 1310). This practice ensures that the people who directly benefit from the permit are responsible for the cost of the service provided. TVA has implemented an application fee schedule to facilitate this reimbursement. These fees are based on the cost to TVA of providing this service. TVA will continue to examine its costs of providing these services and, if these costs change, application fees will be adjusted accordingly. TVA incorporates sound business principles into its daily work and continually strives to improve its efficiency in order to reduce its costs of doing business.

Standard Applications

The fee schedule for standard applications is based on an analysis of TVA’s costs for processing applications. These costs include site investigations, record searches, analysis for conformance to TVA requirements, environmental review, permit preparation and related activities. Paying the fee does not guarantee approval of the permit, and the fee will not be refunded if the application is not approved.

On-reservoir activities Initial Fee
Applications from adjoining property owners for docks, boathouses, or other minor shoreline alterations $500
Applications from adjoining property owners for marinas, community facilities, barge terminals, bridges, or other major shoreline alterations. $1,000
Applications from local, state, or federal agencies for major shoreline alterations. $500
Applications for transfer of ownership of existing permitted facilities.* $250
*Existing (constructed) facilities not constructed in accordance with plans approved by TVA do not qualify for a transfer of ownership and will be assessed a $500 or $1,000 application fee associated with minor or major shoreline alterations, respectively, depending upon the nature of the facilities.
Off-reservoir activities Initial Fee
All applications for minor or major construction activities or for transfer of ownership of existing permitted facilities. $250

A single permit application may include more than one construction activity at the same location for a single fee (e.g., a dock and bank stabilization). If another application is later made for additional activities or to modify previous permits, a separate fee will be charged for each new application.

Non-Standard Applications

If processing costs are expected to significantly exceed the standard fees identified above, TVA will notify the applicant in writing that full-cost recovery will be required. The applicant will be required to sign an agreement before work begins, and TVA will invoice the applicant on a monthly basis when costs exceed the initial application fee. Work will cease if the applicant does not promptly pay TVA invoices.

These fees will recover the cost of detailed analyses such as special biological studies, archaeological surveys, environmental assessments (EA) or environmental impact statements (EIS), which may be required in special circumstances such as when wetlands, cultural resources or endangered species might be impacted by the proposal.

Additional fees may be assessed for processing after-the-fact permits for activities already conducted without a permit in violation of Federal regulations.

The following is general guidance for TVA full cost recovery fees and project duration. These figures are not exact or binding, but are provided to generally describe what may be encountered. Costs and schedule will be determined by the specific circumstances of each location and action. As with any project concerning unknowns, the fees and duration could escalate significantly depending on what is discovered during the review.

Non-Standard Applications - Full Cost Recovery

Typical Cost and Duration

Modifications to existing projects, new projects requiring limited additional special studies, or actions not covered by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers general permit.

$1,000 to $3,000
(3 to 5 months)

Projects requiring in-depth or additional review of at least one environmental or programmatic issue. Issues can include, but are not limited to: identification of historic or archaeological resources, presence of wetlands, threatened or endangered species impacts requiring involvement of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, TVA programmatic interests (for example, transmission rights-of-way, navigation and municipal water supply) or actions not covered by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers general permit.

$5,000 to $10,000
(4 to 12 months)

Projects that require in-depth or additional review of multiple environmental or programmatic issues. An EA may be required. Issues can include, but are not limited to: investigation and documentation of historic or archaeological resources, wetland impact mitigation studies, issues requiring seasonal field review (low water level, foliage emergence), formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on threatened or endangered species, controversial actions, significant TVA programmatic interests or actions not covered by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers general permit.

Up to $15,000
(6 to 18 months)

Projects which require in-depth, detailed studies for multiple or significant environmental or programmatic issues. An EA or EIS may be required. Issues can include, but are not limited to: mitigation of impacts caused by the proposed action, impacts to historic or archaeological resources, significant wetlands impacts, formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on significant threatened or endangered species impacts, significant TVA programmatic interests, or actions not covered by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers general permit. If proposed action is controversial, public meetings may be conducted, and the applicant would be responsible for costs incurred.

$25,000 or significantly more (12 to 36 months, potentially more)

NOTE: These figures reflect TVA’s review costs only. Fees from other service providers and state and federal agencies may also be required.

On-reservoir and off-reservoir activities

On-reservoir activities include Section 26a permit requests across, along or in TVA reservoirs where water elevations are influenced by the operation of the dam. On-reservoir areas will generally equate to the areas where TVA has obtained land and/or land rights. Off-reservoir activities include Section 26a permit requests on all other perennial rivers and streams in the Tennessee River Watershed. Off-reservoir areas will generally equate to the areas upstream of the influence of any TVA dam as well as downstream of TVA dams where TVA has not obtained land and/or land rights. 

NOTE: Site-specific conditions may impact the review and approval of your application. Applying does not guarantee approval. TVA may change its application fees and/or its Section 26a rules and procedures from time to time. Contact your local regional watershed office for more information and clarification.