TVA narrows future of floating houses to six alternatives


JOHNSON CITY (WJHL) – The Tennessee Valley Authority is trying to decide what new rules and regulations it will place on homes sitting on the water.

The TVA says it’s because of safety and environmental concerns that come from floating houses in its reservoirs, including those in the Tri-Cities.

The policy review will help TVA determine how best to address current issues, like: electrical safety, waste management and harbor limits. It will also determine how the authority floating houses will be managed going forward.

Up until 1978, TVA accepted permits for people to park houseboats, but the permits never covered non-navigable floating homes. Despite the ban, several reservoirs have seen a lot of growth in the amount of houseboats.

“We have an investment there, and possible could lose that investment,” said Tony Howard.  He owns a houseboat on Boone Lake.

It’s an investment almost 2,000 people have made in a home on the water.

“There are safety and environmental issues associate with their growth that we need to assess, what are the impacts to the reservoirs,” TVA Spokesperson Jim Hopson said.

Tuesday, TVA spokesmen held a meeting in Johnson City to hear from those who may be impacted across the Tri-Cities region.

“I just hope that we’re able to keep boat houses on the lake, especially ones that are there now,” said Laurel Lake Marina Owner Dale Thomas.

“I am afraid they may do away with them soon, or within 30 years,” Howard said.

TVA has narrowed it six alternatives. The alternatives include prohibiting existing and new floating houses to leaving the current regulations as is.

But for Thomas, he would like to see those who already have a home on the water grandfathered in. He said, “and be able to make improvements on those boat houses, and do that in a safe, logical kind of way that would not be harmful to the public. I think that would be the best thing.”

TVA hopes its board of directors will have a final recommendation by the end of the year, so the new regulations can start at the beginning of 2016.

There’s still time to let the TVA know what you think, just go to 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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