08.15.16

Burr Pushes Back on Tennessee Valley Authority’s Proposed Houseboat Ban

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) wrote a letter to Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) CEO William Johnson urging the agency to reconsider a proposal that would ban houseboats in some parts of North Carolina. The proposed rule, which would remove all houseboats from TVA reservoirs, would affect nearly 400 houseboats on Fontana Lake.

“Fontana Lake helps support small businesses, tourism, and the surrounding communities,” Senator Burr wrote. “Many of these houseboats have been passed down through generations and are integral to the culture in Western North Carolina. The removal of these homes would be a financial burden to the homeowners and an economic loss for Swain and Graham County.”

The signed letter is available online and the full text is included below:

August 15, 2016

Mr. William D. Johnson

CEO, Tennessee Valley Authority

400 West Summit Hill Drive

Knoxville, TN 37902

President Johnson: 

As you know, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) recently voted to make significant changes to their Floating Houses Policy, by calling for the removal of all houseboats located in TVA reservoirs over the next 30 years. This new rule not only requires the homeowners to bear the cost of removing their homes, but it also fails to address the loss in property value that homeowners will experience as a result of the proposed rule. This is a serious matter of utmost concern for the houseboat owners of Fontana and Hiwassee Lakes in North Carolina. 

Most impacted in my state is Fontana Lake, which is home to almost 400 houseboats, and is a component of TVA’s overall reservoir system. The local communities that make up Fontana Lake have been proactive and forward thinking in their efforts to improve water quality and safety. Both Swain and Graham County, in cooperation with the houseboat owners, passed ordinances intended to limit the potential environmental impact of the homes so as to safeguard public health, along with a monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance.

Many of these houseboat owners made extensive investments to meet these standards and continue to practice proper resource and water management along Fontana Lake today. Their good stewardship should be recognized, not penalized through additional fees and unreasonable regulations. 

Fontana Lake helps support small businesses, tourism, and the surrounding communities. Many of these houseboats have been passed down through generations and are integral to the culture in Western North Carolina. The removal of these homes would be a financial burden to the homeowners and an economic loss for Swain and Graham County. 

I ask that you reconsider your proposal to remove all houseboats from these lakes and take into consideration the interests and comments you receive during the public review period. Additionally, I ask that you consider the economic effects the proposed rule will have on each of TVA’s reservoirs and the unique benefits of each individual reservoir. These communities have a large group of stakeholders who are all invested and dedicated to the protection and preservation of the natural landscape they have enjoyed for decades. 

Sincerely

Richard Burr

U.S. Senator