TVA Houseboat Ban Lifted

January 2017 News Colin Peterson Web Exclusive

If you own a houseboat on a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reservoir, you're in luck. President Obama has signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act into law on December 16, and that bill will prevent the TVA from banning houseboats in its reservoirs. This is in part thanks to support from two North Carolina lawmakers, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). The bill also received support from Tennessee lawmakers, including Rep. Phil Roe, Sen. Bob Corker, and Sen. Lamar Alexander. It even received support from the Washington County Commission.

“The legislation recently approved by the Congress and signed by the president gives the TVA Board of Directors authority to allow floating cabins on the reservoirs it manages,” said TVA spokesman Jim Hopson. “For existing floating cabin owners, they can remain on reservoirs managed by TVA for significant periods if they continue to comply to the new standards and meet fee requirements. Importantly, TVA may also establish guidance to prevent the construction of new structures on its waters.”

"Floating home owners are very pleased and thankful for the passing of the Water Resources Development Act that allows us to keep our homes," says Karen Jenkins, who owns a houseboat on Boone Reservoir. “I am especially thankful for the North Carolina lawmakers who stepped up and supported us by introducing this legislation. The previous TVA sunset ruling immediately devalued our homes and was a poor choice to handle the problem the TVA itself had allowed to happen. We hope now that the fees and regulations will be reasonable and take into consideration the situation we have here on Boone Lake." This is especially good for Karen, as she paid so much to remodel her vessel and bring it up to current regulations in 2012. 

TVA's ban on houseboats (which would have went into effect in 30 years) was implemented in May. The descision was made based on a study which concluded that half of the houseboats lacked the required permits; there were also environmental and safety concerns that helped lead to the decision. With this new legislation, however, the TVA will still enact more health and safety requirements on houseboats, despite the lift on the ban. Owners will have five to 15 years to comply with those requirements. Hopson doesn't know what those requirements are yet, but he says that TVA officials have been meeting regularly to discuss the logistics.

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