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Water Service FAQs

If you're thinking of purchasing property in Cambria, please read the following carefully.

What's the water situation in Cambria?

  • Cambria’s entire water supply comes from wells located on two creeks, San Simeon Creek to the North of town, and Santa Rosa Creek, which runs through Cambria.
  • The District owns three wells on San Simeon Creek from which the majority of the town’s water is drawn. It also owns three wells in the Santa Rosa Creek basin: two permanent wells that are currently unused due to threat of MTBE contamination, and one temporary well leased from the High School.
  • Since rainfall in Cambria is strictly seasonal, and no rain generally falls from May through October, water storage is a critical issue.
  • The District is permitted by the State to withdraw a specific amount of water from the creeks. This is contingent upon maintaining wetland habitats in the creek for certain endangered species

What is the status of the CCSD's Water Supply Plan?

  • In 2008, the CCSD completed a Water Master Plan (WMP) to determine Cambria’s water needs for the future. It includes the eventual “buildout” size of the community and the corresponding water, sewer, and fire protection needs for that size community.  Desalination was determined to be the best long-term, stable water source for Cambria.
  • During 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers, through a project cooperative agreement with the CCSD, commissioned CDM Smith to complete a Cambria Water Supply Alternatives Technical Memorandum.  Following a series of public workshops, an indirect potable reuse project using brackish water was found to be the most technically superior project.  This report was followed by a severe drough and consequential emergency water shortage.  This prompted the CCSD to complete its Sustainable Water Facility (SWF) project during 2014.  The SWF is a smaller scale version of the indirect potable reuse project described in the 2013 report (alternative 5).  The key differences included reusing as much of the existing CCSD infrastructure as possible while keeping the project within the confines of CCSD-owned property located off of San Simeon Creek Road.
  • The CCSD completed the SWF project's design, permitting, and construction within a very aggressive 6-month period.  The project first went into operation during January 2015.  It is currently permitted to operate under an emergency coastal development permit issued by SLO County Planning.  A project EIR to support a Regular Coastal Development Permitting process was completed during July 2016.  The SWF's Regular CDP is currently in process with the County.

Why is there a Water Wait List for permits?

  • There has been a long-standing water shortage, and because the County has imposed a “growth management” ordinance that limits annual issuance of building permits.
  • The CCSD will not issue water commitments beyond those for which the County will process building permits. This ensures there is not a backlog of customers unable to build. The "County" wait list is NOT for water and does not constitute a water commitment by the CCSD.
  • If a real estate agent tells you a property has a wait list position, be sure to confirm that it is a CCSD Water Wait List position and not a County Building Permit waiting list position.  A hard copy of the CCSD Water Wait List is available at our Admin Office located at 1316 Tamsen Dr., Suite 201 in Cambria.

What does a waiting list position mean?

  • It entitles you to a new hookup for water and sewer service when your position number is eligible for issuance, and upon your completion of all Intent to Serve letter requirements.

When can my project get water service?

  • For the 10 years prior to the November 2001 water emergency declaration, between 27 and 65 single-family projects received water service per year, depending upon whether San Luis County allowed a growth rate of 1% or 2.3% respectively. The Cambria CSD has not issued an Intent letter since 2001.
  • The County of San Luis Obispo sets the countywide growth limit annually through limitations on issuance of building permits. The current growth rate allowed by the San Luis Obispo County is 0%.
  • The County will not process a building permit for any project that does not have water.

Why would someone not accept his or her Intent to Serve letter?

  • Accepting an Intent to Serve letter means the applicant must meet a number of requirements with considerable financial commitments and time deadlines.
  • If the owner is not prepared to actively pursue a building permit, hire an architect and builder, acquire financing, and pay substantial fees, they should not accept an Intent to Serve.
  • Failure to meet the requirements can result in a project being returned to the waiting list and forfeiture of certain fees. A project may "defer" one time without penalty. If you would like to apply for an extension, please click on Intent to Serve Extension Application.

What about properties with no water position?

  • If a property has no water position, it is questionable whether a water permit could be obtained in the future.
  • Currently, the only option is to transfer water from another parcel that already has a position. The conditions under which a transfer is allowed include: matching ownership on the sender and receiver parcels in the transfer, and retirement of either the sender parcel or an approved alternate parcel. Transfers are limited to parcels with single-family residential water meters that meet certain size and location requirements.
  • If your property is smaller than 3,500 square feet (many single lots are only 1,750 sq. ft.) or is located in an area designated by San Luis Obispo County as Special Projects Area #1 (roughly Fern Canyon area to Romney Drive on Lodge Hill) or Special Project Area 2 (as depicted in Attachment "A" to Ordinance 02-2007), you cannot transfer water there.