Management of Floating Cabins, 51709-51712 [2021-19999]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 177 / Thursday, September 16, 2021 / Notices The notice of the President’s major disaster declaration for the State of New York, dated 09/05/2021, is hereby amended to include the following areas as adversely affected by the disaster: Primary Counties (Physical Damage and Economic Injury Loans): Suffolk. Contiguous Counties (Economic Injury Loans Only): All contiguous counties previously declared. All other information in the original declaration remains unchanged. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 59008) James Rivera, Associate Administrator for Disaster Assistance. [FR Doc. 2021–20051 Filed 9–15–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8026–03–P SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN COMMISSION Advertisement for Mandatory PreProposal Conference and Site Visit Dated: September 13, 2021. Jason E. Oyler, General Counsel and Secretary to the Commission. Susquehanna River Basin Commission. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: This notice includes an advertisement for a mandatory preproposal conference and site visit as outlined below. DATES: October 21 and 28, 2021. ADDRESSES: Susquehanna River Basin Commission, 4423 North Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110–1788. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marcia Hutchinson, telephone: (717) 238–0423, ext. 1318; fax: (717) 238– 2436; email: mhutchinson@srbc.net. Regular mail inquiries may be sent to the above address. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (Commission) will be seeking a firm or firms to provide professional design services for a mine drainage (MD) conveyance system and active treatment plant to be located near Blossburg Borough, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. The Mandatory Pre-Proposal Conference (Conference) will take place on October 21, 2021 from 10:00 to 11:00 via an online platform of the SRBC’s choosing. The SRBC will provide a brief presentation with the remainder of the time available for questions. The Mandatory Site Visit (Site Visit) will take place on October 28, 2021 from 10:00 to 15:00 in Blossburg, PA. The SRBC will not entertain questions during the Site Visit and interested entities are encouraged to prepare for inclement weather and difficult terrain. SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Sep 15, 2021 Jkt 253001 To register for the Conference and Site Visit, interested entities should email the SRBC at rsvp@srbc.net by October 19, 2021 with the subject line ‘‘Morris Run Conference’’, and include the following information within the email: Names, email addresses and telephone numbers of all individuals interested in participating, as well as your company name and mailing address. Following the close of the registration period, registered entities will receive a web link and instructions to participate in the Conference. The Commission will release its Request for Proposals for the work on October 14, 2021. The principal items of work to be performed include: • Design and permitting for a MD conveyance system and active treatment plant. • Preparation of construction documents and construction bid administration. Authority: Pub. L. 91–575, 84 Stat. 1509 et seq., §§ 5.1, 7.1, 7.4 and 15.9. [FR Doc. 2021–20032 Filed 9–15–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7040–01–P TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY Management of Floating Cabins Tennessee Valley Authority. Issuance of record of decision. AGENCY: ACTION: The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has adopted a policy to prohibit the mooring of new floating cabins on its reservoirs and allow floating cabins that meet minimum standards, consistent with Section 9b of the TVA Act and Alternative B1 in the Floating Houses Policy Review Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) issued in February 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David B. Harrell, Tennessee Valley Authority, 400 W Summit Hill Drive WT 11D–K, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902. Telephone: 865–632–1327. Email: dbharrell@tva.gov or fc@tva.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice is provided in accordance with the Council on Environmental Quality’s regulations (40 CFR 1505.2) and TVA procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). TVA is a multi-purpose federal agency that has been charged by Congress with promoting the wise use SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 51709 and conservation of the resources of the Tennessee Valley region, including the Tennessee River System. In carrying out this mission, TVA operates a system of dams and reservoirs on the Tennessee River and its tributaries for the purposes of navigation, flood control, and power production. Consistent with its mission, TVA also uses the system to improve water quality and water supply and to provide a wide range of public benefits, including recreation and natural resource stewardship. To promote the unified development and regulation of the Tennessee River System, Congress directed TVA to approve obstructions across, along, or in the river system under Section 26a of the TVA Act. ‘‘Obstruction’’ is a broad term that includes, by way of example, boat docks, piers, boathouses, buoys, floats, boat launching ramps, fills, water intakes, devices for discharging effluents, bridges, aerial cables, culverts, pipelines, fish attractors, shoreline stabilization projects, channel excavations, and floating cabins. TVA also owns, as agent for the United States, much of the shoreland and inundated land along and under its reservoir system. In addition to TVA’s Section 26a jurisdiction and the permit conditions issued pursuant to such jurisdiction, TVA has conditions and covenants in approved land use agreements with commercial marina operators and land and shoreline management policies that stipulate or restrict how TVA property and shoreline areas can be used. In 1971, TVA amended its Section 26a regulations at 18 CFR part 1304 to prohibit all new nonnavigable houseboats. Since 1971, TVA has made minor changes to its regulations affecting nonnavigable houseboats, most notably in 1978, when TVA reiterated the prohibition of nonnavigable houseboats except for those in existence on or before February 15, 1978. TVA developed the following criteria in its regulations to distinguish between navigable vessels and prohibited, nonnavigable houseboats: 1. Built on a boat hull or on two or more pontoons; 2. Equipped with a motor and rudder controls located at a point on the houseboat from which there is forward visibility over a 180-degree range; 3. Compliant with all applicable State and Federal requirements relating to vessels; 4. Registered as a vessel in the State of principal use; and 5. State registration numbers clearly displayed on the vessel. In recent years, numerous TVA reservoirs have experienced an E:\FR\FM\16SEN1.SGM 16SEN1 51710 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 177 / Thursday, September 16, 2021 / Notices accelerated growth in the number of a new, unpermitted type of obstruction, referred to as floating houses or cabins, which are designed and used primarily for human habitation or occupation and not designed and used primarily for navigation and transportation on the water. (Although TVA has used the term floating houses in the past, including in the EIS, TVA now refers to these structures as floating cabins.) While floating cabins may have some attributes of real watercraft, the structures neither resemble nor have the performance characteristics of navigable boats and are in fact a modern version of the older nonnavigable houseboats that TVA prohibited. While this growth has generated additional sources of revenue for commercial marina operators, the proliferation of these structures has resulted in unanticipated uses of the reservoir system and has raised concerns about impacts to public health and safety, public recreation, navigation, and the environment. Alternatives Considered TVA considered six management alternatives in the Draft EIS and the Final EIS. The management alternatives range from an alternative that would require all nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins to be removed from TVA reservoirs to an alternative which allows existing nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins to remain on TVA reservoirs in perpetuity and allows for new floating cabins on all TVA reservoirs. The alternatives considered by TVA were: The No Action Alternative—TVA would use discretion in enforcing its Section 26a regulations and would address specific problems caused by the mooring and use of these structures on a case-by-case basis. Alternative A—TVA would approve and issue permits for the mooring of existing and new floating cabins that meet new minimum standards within permitted marina harbor limits, while noncompliant floating cabins would be removed from the reservoir. TVA would change its regulations to set minimum standards for safety and wastewater issues and would increase enforcement of the standards. Existing permits issued to nonnavigable houseboats would remain valid and would not be subject to new standards if they comply with existing permit conditions. Alternative B1—TVA would approve and issue permits for the mooring of existing floating cabins that meet new minimum standards within permitted marina harbor limits. Permitted nonnavigable houseboats in compliance with their permits would continue to be VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Sep 15, 2021 Jkt 253001 allowed. TVA would prohibit new floating cabins and update its regulations to clarify that floating cabins are deemed nonnavigable. In the Draft EIS, TVA stated that its preference was to implement either Alternative B1 or B2 as its policy. Alternative B2—TVA would approve existing floating cabins that meet new minimum standards and allow mooring within permitted marina harbor limits for a limited time period, after which all floating cabins must be removed from TVA reservoirs. TVA would continue to allow existing permitted nonnavigable houseboats that are compliant with their permit conditions but would require that they also be removed from TVA reservoirs within the time period. TVA would prohibit new floating cabins. In the Draft EIS, Alternative B2 included a 30-year sunset period by which time these structures would be removed. In the Final EIS, TVA identified Alternative B2 as its preferred policy and proposed a 20-year sunset period. Alternative C—TVA would continue to allow permitted nonnavigable houseboats that comply with their current permit conditions. TVA would prohibit new and existing floating cabins. TVA would require removal of all unpermitted floating cabins and permitted nonnavigable houseboats that are noncompliant with their permit conditions in accordance with 18 CFR 1304.406. TVA would amend its regulations to clarify its navigability criteria but would not issue new standards. Alternative D—TVA would use its existing Section 26a regulations and property rights to remove existing floating cabins and noncompliant nonnavigable houseboats and to stop the mooring of new floating cabins on its reservoirs. TVA also would use the conditions and covenants in its land use agreements with marina operators to implement this approach. Environmentally Preferable Alternative Alternative B2 is the alternative most likely to result in the fewest environmental impacts over time because all floating cabins and nonnavigable houseboats would eventually be removed from TVA reservoirs and environmental impacts associated with the mooring and use of these structures would cease after that period. Public Involvement TVA published a notice of intent to prepare the EIS in the Federal Register on April 14, 2014. TVA sought input from Federal and state agencies, Federally recognized Indian tribes, local PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 organizations and individuals during a 90-day public scoping period. Public meetings were held in Jasper, Parsons, Kingsport, and Lafollette, Tennessee, and in Bryson City, North Carolina, with more than 200 attendees in total. The most common issues raised during the scoping period related to electrical safety, anchoring and mooring practices, water quality, the economic and financial importance of these structures to owners and marina operators, and the need for minimum standards, inspections, and enforcements. TVA also received recommendations for future management and policy alternatives. TVA prepared and published a Scoping Report that detailed the outreach and input during this period. The NOA of the Draft EIS was published in the Federal Register on June 12, 2015. TVA held public meetings on the Draft EIS in July and August 2016 in Lafollette, Parsons, and Johnson City, Tennessee, and in Bryson City, North Carolina, and accepted comments until August 25, 2015. TVA received 151 comment submissions on the Draft EIS and provided responses in the Final EIS. In response to numerous substantive comments, TVA made revisions and corrections to the EIS. After considering the public’s feedback on the Draft EIS and further internal deliberation, TVA modified Alternative B2 by applying a shorter period of time by which all nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins must be removed from TVA reservoirs. The NOA of the Final EIS was published in the Federal Register on February 26, 2016. In the Final EIS, TVA identified Alternative B2 as its preferred floating cabins policy alternative and stated its intent to formally establish regulations to implement the policy. After the publication of the NOA and prior to the TVA Board of Directors (Board) meeting on May 5, 2016, TVA staff and the Board received several hundred comment submissions primarily from owners of nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins expressing opposition to the proposal to remove these structures after a 20-year period. Most individuals, however, stated that they recognized the need for greater oversight of floating cabins by TVA and for new standards. Elected officials, marina owners and operators, and several organizations also contacted TVA to state their opposition to the sunset provision. A few commenters asserted that the EIS does not conclude that nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins have an effect on the environment (in particular, reservoir water quality), navigation, or E:\FR\FM\16SEN1.SGM 16SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 177 / Thursday, September 16, 2021 / Notices the public’s use of reservoirs. While these commenters questioned the conclusions of TVA’s environmental and economic analyses, the individuals did not submit additional information or scientific data for TVA to consider. TVA also received a petition with over 3,600 signatures and almost 950 comments from individuals opposing the sunset provision. Generally, these individuals supported Alternative B1. At the May 5, 2016 meeting of the Board in Buchanan, Tennessee, 47 individuals spoke during the public listening session. Most speakers opposed the sunset provision of Alternative B2. Several speakers expressed support of the proposal. Decision At the May 2016 meeting, the Board approved Alternative B2, with some revisions, as TVA’s policy for the management of nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins, but chose to apply a 30-year sunset period rather than the 20-year period proposed in the Final EIS. The Board’s decision adopted a policy to prohibit new floating cabins and allow existing nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins to remain in place for the 30-year period. The Board restated its earlier determinations that these structures pose safety, navigation, and water pollution risks and primarily benefit their owners at the expense of the public’s right to use and enjoy public waters. The Board also directed staff to amend TVA’s Section 26a regulations to implement the new policy, establish environmental and safety standards, and to institute a registration and inspection fee system for nonnavigable houseboats and existing floating cabins to secure the resources needed to enforce new standards and permit requirements. On December 16, 2016, prior to TVA’s issuance of a Record of Decision to reflect the Board’s decision, the United States Congress enacted the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016 (WIIN Act) including Title IV Section 5003, which amended the TVA Act to include Section 9b. This new section of the TVA Act provides that TVA may approve and allow the use of floating cabins on waters under the jurisdiction of TVA as of December 16, 2016, if the floating cabin is maintained to reasonable health, safety and environmental standards, as required by the Board and if the owner pays a compliance fee if assessed by TVA. The WIIN Act stipulates that TVA may not require the removal of a floating cabin that was located on the Tennessee River System as of December 16, 2016: (1) For a period of 15 years if VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Sep 15, 2021 Jkt 253001 it was granted a permit by TVA before enactment, or (2) for a period of 5 years if it was not granted a permit by TVA before enactment. It further stipulates that TVA may establish regulations to prevent the construction of new floating cabins. Consistent with the provisions of the WIIN Act, TVA completed two rulemaking processes to establish regulations to implement these provisions. In August 2018, TVA completed a rulemaking process to amend its regulations that govern floating cabins to clarify the types of structures that TVA will regulate as floating cabins and to prohibit new floating cabins from mooring on the Tennessee River System after December 16, 2016 (83 FR 44467, August 31, 2018). In September 2021, TVA completed a second rulemaking process to address the permitting process for existing floating cabins and establish health, safety, and environmental standards (86 FR 50625, September 10, 2021). These rules become effective on October 12, 2021. During its environmental review, a primary environmental issue of concern was how floating cabin wastewater would be managed. Among the standards included in the new rules are requirements pertaining to water discharge, sewage, and wastewater, to ensure compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. If a floating cabin is documented to be in violation of any federal, state, or local discharge or water quality regulation by the respective regulatory agency, TVA will have the authority to revoke the permit and require removal of the floating cabin from the Tennessee River System if the violation is not corrected as specified by the regulatory agency in accordance with the agency’s requirements. Because some provisions of the Board’s approved alternative (Alternative B2) are inconsistent with provisions of the WIIN Act, TVA has decided to manage floating cabins in a manner that is substantively similar with Alternative B1 in the EIS, to the extent consistent with the WIIN Act. TVA will permit the mooring of existing floating cabins that meet minimum standards within permitted marina harbor limits. In addition, permitted nonnavigable houseboats in compliance with their permits would continue to be allowed. Through the rulemaking processes, several standards established by TVA differ in minor ways from several of the potential standards included in the EIS, which served to assist TVA in analyzing the potential impacts associated with PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 51711 floating cabin management. In the final regulations, due to the elimination by the WIIN Act of the sunset period, TVA will require that owners of all pre-1978 nonnavigable houseboats be in compliance with the new standards established during the rulemaking, rather than maintain compliance with the previous permit conditions as contemplated in the EIS. Applying the new standards to older vessels has the potential to reduce environmental impacts because the new standards would be more stringent than the original permit conditions. In addition, at this time TVA will not apply an annual administrative fee to floating cabin owners and will lengthen the period of time provided to owners to make necessary upgrades to floating cabins to bring them into compliance with current standards; these provisions would result in minor reductions in the economic impacts to floating cabin owners that are described in the EIS. In the final regulations, TVA would allow exchanges or combinations of up to 1,000 square-foot maximum footprint of the cabin, as contemplated in the EIS, and up to another 400 square feet of attached structures (such as docks and boat slips). While the total spatial limit would be marginally greater than what was contemplated in the EIS, the intent of the exchange program has not changed, and TVA anticipates that the program would reduce or at least maintain the current total footprint of floating cabins and attached structures on reservoirs. TVA also notes that since completion of the Final EIS in 2016, TVA staff conducted additional surveys of floating cabins and now estimate that as many as 20% more floating cabins are present on TVA reservoirs than estimated in the EIS (1,800). The exact number of cabins is difficult to determine, however. A greater number of floating cabins would increase the impacts described in the EIS. However, because impacts would be proportionately greater across the alternatives, the increase in the estimated number of floating cabins is unlikely to result in a change to conclusions made by TVA in its analysis. TVA has considered whether this higher estimate and the minor differences between the established standards and the potential standards identified in the EIS necessitate the supplementation of the EIS. TVA has determined that such supplementation is not necessary because the changes are not substantial and the new information is not significant as is relevant to environmental concerns. The E:\FR\FM\16SEN1.SGM 16SEN1 51712 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 177 / Thursday, September 16, 2021 / Notices Authority: 40 CFR 1505.2. information would not meaningfully alter TVA’s analysis of impacts. Mitigation Measures During the environmental review, TVA identified and considered ways in which the impacts associated with the mooring and use of nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins could be reduced and mitigated and included in the alternatives a number of proposals to reduce or eliminate ongoing or potential future impacts. TVA would require that owners of these structures adhere to permit conditions and minimum standards, many of which are intended to mitigate potential impacts to the environment. These minimum standards have been established through formal rulemaking processes and address water quality, flotation materials, public safety mooring practices, size, and navigation. All floating cabins, including nonnavigable houseboats that have been previously permitted by TVA, must comply with the new standards by a specified deadline. Non-compliance with these terms could result in the termination or denial of the permit and removal from the reservoir, consistent with timeframes identified in the WIIN Act. The requirements and the successful implementation of an enforcement and compliance system will reduce environmental impacts associated with the mooring and use of these structures on TVA reservoirs. Because this is a programmatic NEPA review, measures to reduce potential environmental impacts of site-specific activities associated with this policy were not identified. Additional environmental reviews would be required if changes to specific marina operations are proposed affecting nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins and additional mitigation measures may be identified. To address potential effects of implementing the policy on cultural and historic resources, TVA completed a programmatic agreement in May 2016 with the State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPO) of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. This programmatic agreement was amended and executed in January 2021. Under the agreement, TVA will consult with the appropriate SHPO and consulting parties when reviewing either plans submitted to TVA by marina owners related to harbor limits or plans for individual floating cabin owners moored outside of marina harbor limits. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Sep 15, 2021 Jkt 253001 Allen A. Clare, Vice President, River and Resources Stewardship. [FR Doc. 2021–19999 Filed 9–15–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8120–08–P amount to which the United States is committed under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement. The U.S. Trade Representative is allocating this quantity (1,117,195 MTRV) to the following countries in the amounts specified below: OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Fiscal Year 2022 Tariff-Rate Quota Allocations for Raw Cane Sugar, Refined and Specialty Sugar, and Sugar-Containing Products Office of the United States Trade Representative. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Office of the United States Trade Representative is providing notice of allocations of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 (October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022) in-quota quantity of the tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for imported raw cane sugar, certain sugars, syrups and molasses (also known as refined sugar), specialty sugar, and sugar-containing products. DATES: The changes made by this notice are applicable as of September 16, 2021. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Nicholson, Office of Agricultural Affairs, at 202–395–9419, or Erin.H.Nicholson@ustr.eop.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to Additional U.S. Note 5 to Chapter 17 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), the United States maintains TRQs for imports of raw cane sugar and refined sugar. Pursuant to Additional U.S. Note 8 to Chapter 17 of the HTSUS, the United States maintains a TRQ for imports of sugar-containing products. Section 404(d)(3) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (19 U.S.C. 3601(d)(3)) authorizes the President to allocate the in-quota quantity of a TRQ for any agricultural product among supplying countries or customs areas. The President delegated this authority to the U.S. Trade Representative under Presidential Proclamation 6763 (60 FR 1007). On September 13, 2021, the Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Administrator) announced the sugar program provisions for FY2022. The Administrator announced an in-quota quantity of the TRQ for raw cane sugar for FY2022 of 1,117,195 metric tons raw value (MTRV) (conversion factor: 1 metric ton raw value = 1.10231125 short tons raw value), which is the minimum SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Country Argentina .................................. Australia .................................... Barbados .................................. Belize ........................................ Bolivia ....................................... Brazil ......................................... Colombia ................................... Congo (Brazzaville) .................. Costa Rica ................................ Cote d’Ivoire ............................. Dominican Republic .................. Ecuador .................................... El Salvador ............................... Fiji ............................................. Gabon ....................................... Guatemala ................................ Guyana ..................................... Haiti ........................................... Honduras .................................. India .......................................... Jamaica .................................... Madagascar .............................. Malawi ....................................... Mauritius ................................... Mexico ...................................... Mozambique ............................. Nicaragua ................................. Panama .................................... Papua New Guinea .................. Paraguay .................................. Peru .......................................... Philippines ................................ South Africa .............................. St. Kitts & Nevis ....................... Swaziland ................................. Taiwan ...................................... Thailand .................................... Trinidad & Tobago .................... Uruguay .................................... Zimbabwe ................................. FY2022 raw cane sugar allocations (MTRV) 45,281 87,402 7,371 11,584 8,424 152,691 25,273 7,258 15,796 7,258 185,335 11,584 27,379 9,477 7,258 50,546 12,636 7,258 10,530 8,424 11,584 7,258 10,530 12,636 7,258 13,690 22,114 30,538 7,258 7,258 43,175 142,160 24,220 7,258 16,849 12,636 14,743 7,371 7,258 12,636 These allocations are based on the countries’ historical shipments to the United States. The allocations of the inquota quantities of the raw cane sugar TRQ to countries that are net importers of sugar are conditioned on receipt of the appropriate verifications of origin. Certificates for quota eligibility must accompany imports from any country for which an allocation has been provided. On September 13, 2021, the Administrator also announced the establishment of the in-quota quantity of the FY2022 refined sugar TRQ at 222,000 MTRV, for which the sucrose content, by weight in the dry state, must have a polarimeter reading of 99.5 degrees or more. This amount includes the minimum level to which the United E:\FR\FM\16SEN1.SGM 16SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 177 (Thursday, September 16, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 51709-51712]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-19999]


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TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY


Management of Floating Cabins

AGENCY: Tennessee Valley Authority.

ACTION: Issuance of record of decision.

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SUMMARY: The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has adopted a policy to 
prohibit the mooring of new floating cabins on its reservoirs and allow 
floating cabins that meet minimum standards, consistent with Section 9b 
of the TVA Act and Alternative B1 in the Floating Houses Policy Review 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) issued in February 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David B. Harrell, Tennessee Valley 
Authority, 400 W Summit Hill Drive WT 11D-K, Knoxville, Tennessee 
37902. Telephone: 865-632-1327. Email: [email protected] or [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice is provided in accordance with 
the Council on Environmental Quality's regulations (40 CFR 1505.2) and 
TVA procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA).
    TVA is a multi-purpose federal agency that has been charged by 
Congress with promoting the wise use and conservation of the resources 
of the Tennessee Valley region, including the Tennessee River System. 
In carrying out this mission, TVA operates a system of dams and 
reservoirs on the Tennessee River and its tributaries for the purposes 
of navigation, flood control, and power production. Consistent with its 
mission, TVA also uses the system to improve water quality and water 
supply and to provide a wide range of public benefits, including 
recreation and natural resource stewardship.
    To promote the unified development and regulation of the Tennessee 
River System, Congress directed TVA to approve obstructions across, 
along, or in the river system under Section 26a of the TVA Act. 
``Obstruction'' is a broad term that includes, by way of example, boat 
docks, piers, boathouses, buoys, floats, boat launching ramps, fills, 
water intakes, devices for discharging effluents, bridges, aerial 
cables, culverts, pipelines, fish attractors, shoreline stabilization 
projects, channel excavations, and floating cabins. TVA also owns, as 
agent for the United States, much of the shoreland and inundated land 
along and under its reservoir system. In addition to TVA's Section 26a 
jurisdiction and the permit conditions issued pursuant to such 
jurisdiction, TVA has conditions and covenants in approved land use 
agreements with commercial marina operators and land and shoreline 
management policies that stipulate or restrict how TVA property and 
shoreline areas can be used.
    In 1971, TVA amended its Section 26a regulations at 18 CFR part 
1304 to prohibit all new nonnavigable houseboats. Since 1971, TVA has 
made minor changes to its regulations affecting nonnavigable 
houseboats, most notably in 1978, when TVA reiterated the prohibition 
of nonnavigable houseboats except for those in existence on or before 
February 15, 1978. TVA developed the following criteria in its 
regulations to distinguish between navigable vessels and prohibited, 
nonnavigable houseboats:
    1. Built on a boat hull or on two or more pontoons;
    2. Equipped with a motor and rudder controls located at a point on 
the houseboat from which there is forward visibility over a 180-degree 
range;
    3. Compliant with all applicable State and Federal requirements 
relating to vessels;
    4. Registered as a vessel in the State of principal use; and
    5. State registration numbers clearly displayed on the vessel.
    In recent years, numerous TVA reservoirs have experienced an

[[Page 51710]]

accelerated growth in the number of a new, unpermitted type of 
obstruction, referred to as floating houses or cabins, which are 
designed and used primarily for human habitation or occupation and not 
designed and used primarily for navigation and transportation on the 
water. (Although TVA has used the term floating houses in the past, 
including in the EIS, TVA now refers to these structures as floating 
cabins.) While floating cabins may have some attributes of real 
watercraft, the structures neither resemble nor have the performance 
characteristics of navigable boats and are in fact a modern version of 
the older nonnavigable houseboats that TVA prohibited. While this 
growth has generated additional sources of revenue for commercial 
marina operators, the proliferation of these structures has resulted in 
unanticipated uses of the reservoir system and has raised concerns 
about impacts to public health and safety, public recreation, 
navigation, and the environment.

Alternatives Considered

    TVA considered six management alternatives in the Draft EIS and the 
Final EIS. The management alternatives range from an alternative that 
would require all nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins to be 
removed from TVA reservoirs to an alternative which allows existing 
nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins to remain on TVA reservoirs 
in perpetuity and allows for new floating cabins on all TVA reservoirs. 
The alternatives considered by TVA were:
    The No Action Alternative--TVA would use discretion in enforcing 
its Section 26a regulations and would address specific problems caused 
by the mooring and use of these structures on a case-by-case basis.
    Alternative A--TVA would approve and issue permits for the mooring 
of existing and new floating cabins that meet new minimum standards 
within permitted marina harbor limits, while noncompliant floating 
cabins would be removed from the reservoir. TVA would change its 
regulations to set minimum standards for safety and wastewater issues 
and would increase enforcement of the standards. Existing permits 
issued to nonnavigable houseboats would remain valid and would not be 
subject to new standards if they comply with existing permit 
conditions.
    Alternative B1--TVA would approve and issue permits for the mooring 
of existing floating cabins that meet new minimum standards within 
permitted marina harbor limits. Permitted nonnavigable houseboats in 
compliance with their permits would continue to be allowed. TVA would 
prohibit new floating cabins and update its regulations to clarify that 
floating cabins are deemed nonnavigable. In the Draft EIS, TVA stated 
that its preference was to implement either Alternative B1 or B2 as its 
policy.
    Alternative B2--TVA would approve existing floating cabins that 
meet new minimum standards and allow mooring within permitted marina 
harbor limits for a limited time period, after which all floating 
cabins must be removed from TVA reservoirs. TVA would continue to allow 
existing permitted nonnavigable houseboats that are compliant with 
their permit conditions but would require that they also be removed 
from TVA reservoirs within the time period. TVA would prohibit new 
floating cabins. In the Draft EIS, Alternative B2 included a 30-year 
sunset period by which time these structures would be removed. In the 
Final EIS, TVA identified Alternative B2 as its preferred policy and 
proposed a 20-year sunset period.
    Alternative C--TVA would continue to allow permitted nonnavigable 
houseboats that comply with their current permit conditions. TVA would 
prohibit new and existing floating cabins. TVA would require removal of 
all unpermitted floating cabins and permitted nonnavigable houseboats 
that are noncompliant with their permit conditions in accordance with 
18 CFR 1304.406. TVA would amend its regulations to clarify its 
navigability criteria but would not issue new standards.
    Alternative D--TVA would use its existing Section 26a regulations 
and property rights to remove existing floating cabins and noncompliant 
nonnavigable houseboats and to stop the mooring of new floating cabins 
on its reservoirs. TVA also would use the conditions and covenants in 
its land use agreements with marina operators to implement this 
approach.

Environmentally Preferable Alternative

    Alternative B2 is the alternative most likely to result in the 
fewest environmental impacts over time because all floating cabins and 
nonnavigable houseboats would eventually be removed from TVA reservoirs 
and environmental impacts associated with the mooring and use of these 
structures would cease after that period.

Public Involvement

    TVA published a notice of intent to prepare the EIS in the Federal 
Register on April 14, 2014. TVA sought input from Federal and state 
agencies, Federally recognized Indian tribes, local organizations and 
individuals during a 90-day public scoping period. Public meetings were 
held in Jasper, Parsons, Kingsport, and Lafollette, Tennessee, and in 
Bryson City, North Carolina, with more than 200 attendees in total. The 
most common issues raised during the scoping period related to 
electrical safety, anchoring and mooring practices, water quality, the 
economic and financial importance of these structures to owners and 
marina operators, and the need for minimum standards, inspections, and 
enforcements. TVA also received recommendations for future management 
and policy alternatives. TVA prepared and published a Scoping Report 
that detailed the outreach and input during this period.
    The NOA of the Draft EIS was published in the Federal Register on 
June 12, 2015. TVA held public meetings on the Draft EIS in July and 
August 2016 in Lafollette, Parsons, and Johnson City, Tennessee, and in 
Bryson City, North Carolina, and accepted comments until August 25, 
2015. TVA received 151 comment submissions on the Draft EIS and 
provided responses in the Final EIS. In response to numerous 
substantive comments, TVA made revisions and corrections to the EIS. 
After considering the public's feedback on the Draft EIS and further 
internal deliberation, TVA modified Alternative B2 by applying a 
shorter period of time by which all nonnavigable houseboats and 
floating cabins must be removed from TVA reservoirs.
    The NOA of the Final EIS was published in the Federal Register on 
February 26, 2016. In the Final EIS, TVA identified Alternative B2 as 
its preferred floating cabins policy alternative and stated its intent 
to formally establish regulations to implement the policy. After the 
publication of the NOA and prior to the TVA Board of Directors (Board) 
meeting on May 5, 2016, TVA staff and the Board received several 
hundred comment submissions primarily from owners of nonnavigable 
houseboats and floating cabins expressing opposition to the proposal to 
remove these structures after a 20-year period. Most individuals, 
however, stated that they recognized the need for greater oversight of 
floating cabins by TVA and for new standards. Elected officials, marina 
owners and operators, and several organizations also contacted TVA to 
state their opposition to the sunset provision. A few commenters 
asserted that the EIS does not conclude that nonnavigable houseboats 
and floating cabins have an effect on the environment (in particular, 
reservoir water quality), navigation, or

[[Page 51711]]

the public's use of reservoirs. While these commenters questioned the 
conclusions of TVA's environmental and economic analyses, the 
individuals did not submit additional information or scientific data 
for TVA to consider. TVA also received a petition with over 3,600 
signatures and almost 950 comments from individuals opposing the sunset 
provision. Generally, these individuals supported Alternative B1.
    At the May 5, 2016 meeting of the Board in Buchanan, Tennessee, 47 
individuals spoke during the public listening session. Most speakers 
opposed the sunset provision of Alternative B2. Several speakers 
expressed support of the proposal.

Decision

    At the May 2016 meeting, the Board approved Alternative B2, with 
some revisions, as TVA's policy for the management of nonnavigable 
houseboats and floating cabins, but chose to apply a 30-year sunset 
period rather than the 20-year period proposed in the Final EIS. The 
Board's decision adopted a policy to prohibit new floating cabins and 
allow existing non-navigable houseboats and floating cabins to remain 
in place for the 30-year period. The Board restated its earlier 
determinations that these structures pose safety, navigation, and water 
pollution risks and primarily benefit their owners at the expense of 
the public's right to use and enjoy public waters. The Board also 
directed staff to amend TVA's Section 26a regulations to implement the 
new policy, establish environmental and safety standards, and to 
institute a registration and inspection fee system for nonnavigable 
houseboats and existing floating cabins to secure the resources needed 
to enforce new standards and permit requirements.
    On December 16, 2016, prior to TVA's issuance of a Record of 
Decision to reflect the Board's decision, the United States Congress 
enacted the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 
2016 (WIIN Act) including Title IV Section 5003, which amended the TVA 
Act to include Section 9b. This new section of the TVA Act provides 
that TVA may approve and allow the use of floating cabins on waters 
under the jurisdiction of TVA as of December 16, 2016, if the floating 
cabin is maintained to reasonable health, safety and environmental 
standards, as required by the Board and if the owner pays a compliance 
fee if assessed by TVA. The WIIN Act stipulates that TVA may not 
require the removal of a floating cabin that was located on the 
Tennessee River System as of December 16, 2016: (1) For a period of 15 
years if it was granted a permit by TVA before enactment, or (2) for a 
period of 5 years if it was not granted a permit by TVA before 
enactment. It further stipulates that TVA may establish regulations to 
prevent the construction of new floating cabins.
    Consistent with the provisions of the WIIN Act, TVA completed two 
rulemaking processes to establish regulations to implement these 
provisions. In August 2018, TVA completed a rulemaking process to amend 
its regulations that govern floating cabins to clarify the types of 
structures that TVA will regulate as floating cabins and to prohibit 
new floating cabins from mooring on the Tennessee River System after 
December 16, 2016 (83 FR 44467, August 31, 2018). In September 2021, 
TVA completed a second rulemaking process to address the permitting 
process for existing floating cabins and establish health, safety, and 
environmental standards (86 FR 50625, September 10, 2021). These rules 
become effective on October 12, 2021.
    During its environmental review, a primary environmental issue of 
concern was how floating cabin wastewater would be managed. Among the 
standards included in the new rules are requirements pertaining to 
water discharge, sewage, and wastewater, to ensure compliance with all 
applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. If a 
floating cabin is documented to be in violation of any federal, state, 
or local discharge or water quality regulation by the respective 
regulatory agency, TVA will have the authority to revoke the permit and 
require removal of the floating cabin from the Tennessee River System 
if the violation is not corrected as specified by the regulatory agency 
in accordance with the agency's requirements.
    Because some provisions of the Board's approved alternative 
(Alternative B2) are inconsistent with provisions of the WIIN Act, TVA 
has decided to manage floating cabins in a manner that is substantively 
similar with Alternative B1 in the EIS, to the extent consistent with 
the WIIN Act. TVA will permit the mooring of existing floating cabins 
that meet minimum standards within permitted marina harbor limits. In 
addition, permitted nonnavigable houseboats in compliance with their 
permits would continue to be allowed.
    Through the rulemaking processes, several standards established by 
TVA differ in minor ways from several of the potential standards 
included in the EIS, which served to assist TVA in analyzing the 
potential impacts associated with floating cabin management. In the 
final regulations, due to the elimination by the WIIN Act of the sunset 
period, TVA will require that owners of all pre-1978 nonnavigable 
houseboats be in compliance with the new standards established during 
the rulemaking, rather than maintain compliance with the previous 
permit conditions as contemplated in the EIS. Applying the new 
standards to older vessels has the potential to reduce environmental 
impacts because the new standards would be more stringent than the 
original permit conditions. In addition, at this time TVA will not 
apply an annual administrative fee to floating cabin owners and will 
lengthen the period of time provided to owners to make necessary 
upgrades to floating cabins to bring them into compliance with current 
standards; these provisions would result in minor reductions in the 
economic impacts to floating cabin owners that are described in the 
EIS. In the final regulations, TVA would allow exchanges or 
combinations of up to 1,000 square-foot maximum footprint of the cabin, 
as contemplated in the EIS, and up to another 400 square feet of 
attached structures (such as docks and boat slips). While the total 
spatial limit would be marginally greater than what was contemplated in 
the EIS, the intent of the exchange program has not changed, and TVA 
anticipates that the program would reduce or at least maintain the 
current total footprint of floating cabins and attached structures on 
reservoirs.
    TVA also notes that since completion of the Final EIS in 2016, TVA 
staff conducted additional surveys of floating cabins and now estimate 
that as many as 20% more floating cabins are present on TVA reservoirs 
than estimated in the EIS (1,800). The exact number of cabins is 
difficult to determine, however. A greater number of floating cabins 
would increase the impacts described in the EIS. However, because 
impacts would be proportionately greater across the alternatives, the 
increase in the estimated number of floating cabins is unlikely to 
result in a change to conclusions made by TVA in its analysis.
    TVA has considered whether this higher estimate and the minor 
differences between the established standards and the potential 
standards identified in the EIS necessitate the supplementation of the 
EIS. TVA has determined that such supplementation is not necessary 
because the changes are not substantial and the new information is not 
significant as is relevant to environmental concerns. The

[[Page 51712]]

information would not meaningfully alter TVA's analysis of impacts.

Mitigation Measures

    During the environmental review, TVA identified and considered ways 
in which the impacts associated with the mooring and use of 
nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins could be reduced and 
mitigated and included in the alternatives a number of proposals to 
reduce or eliminate ongoing or potential future impacts. TVA would 
require that owners of these structures adhere to permit conditions and 
minimum standards, many of which are intended to mitigate potential 
impacts to the environment. These minimum standards have been 
established through formal rulemaking processes and address water 
quality, flotation materials, public safety mooring practices, size, 
and navigation.
    All floating cabins, including nonnavigable houseboats that have 
been previously permitted by TVA, must comply with the new standards by 
a specified deadline. Non-compliance with these terms could result in 
the termination or denial of the permit and removal from the reservoir, 
consistent with timeframes identified in the WIIN Act. The requirements 
and the successful implementation of an enforcement and compliance 
system will reduce environmental impacts associated with the mooring 
and use of these structures on TVA reservoirs. Because this is a 
programmatic NEPA review, measures to reduce potential environmental 
impacts of site-specific activities associated with this policy were 
not identified. Additional environmental reviews would be required if 
changes to specific marina operations are proposed affecting 
nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins and additional mitigation 
measures may be identified.
    To address potential effects of implementing the policy on cultural 
and historic resources, TVA completed a programmatic agreement in May 
2016 with the State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPO) of Alabama, 
Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. This 
programmatic agreement was amended and executed in January 2021. Under 
the agreement, TVA will consult with the appropriate SHPO and 
consulting parties when reviewing either plans submitted to TVA by 
marina owners related to harbor limits or plans for individual floating 
cabin owners moored outside of marina harbor limits.
    Authority: 40 CFR 1505.2.

Allen A. Clare,
Vice President, River and Resources Stewardship.
[FR Doc. 2021-19999 Filed 9-15-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8120-08-P