TVA proposing new regulations on floating houses, asks for public input


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Valley Authority announced changes to its floating home policy on Tuesday.

The public utility and watershed management agency said the new regulations “establish health, safety and environmental standards for floating cabins, including standards for electrical safety, flotation, mooring and wastewater discharge.”

TVA estimated in May 2016 that there were 1,800 floating homes on Tennessee waterways. At that time the utility put a sunset clause on the homes that would see the buildings phased out by Jan. 1, 2036. Under the new proposal that date would move to May 5, 2046.

MORE ONLINE | TVA approves 30-year sunset on floating homes

Owners will also be required to register their homes with TVA by Jan. 1, 2021, and submit detailed plans of their structure and other attached buildings as well as photographs.

Changes to regulations include how the floating homes are kept afloat and moored. Environmentally harmful unencased flotation products, like Styrofoam, would be prohibited and have to be removed no later than Dec. 31, 2031. TVA could also require homes deemed “no longer serviceable” to have their flotation devices removed sooner.

MORE ONLINE | Read the full proposal here

The relocation of floating homes would be prohibited without specific permission from the marina and TVA. The utility may also require floating homeowners to mark aerial wires or put buoys on underwater cables to increase visibility.

Electrical wires would have to have ground fault protectors installed and inspections of the wires would have to be submitted every two years.

Discharged water from floating homes cannot go directly into the reservoir per the Clean Water Act. If a homeowner fails to follow the standards their permit could be revoked.

“TVA would require owners to remove their floating cabins if TVA determines a floating cabin is not in compliance with its permit, does not apply for a permit by January 1, 2024, or does not pay the compliance fee if levied by TVA,” the proposal says.

TVA is hosting a public comment period on the proposal until March 9.

Written comments can be sent to David B. Harrell, Program Manager, Tennessee Valley Authority, 400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT 11A-K, Knoxville, TN 37902. Comments also may be submitted by email to or

TVA also created a website dedicated to the proposal for more information about the proposed amendments.

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