New Connections | Wait List | Intent to Serve Letter

Water TransfersRetrofits & Remodels  | Well Permits

Application for Extension | Grandfather & Active Service Transfers

Frequently Asked Questions | Glossary

Contact Water Permitting Department


The CCSD is urging all residents and business owners to minimize their water use during this critical time. Review information below for more details including Frequently Asked Questions and Glossary of Terms.


New Connections

CCSD declared a Water Code 350 emergency in November 2001, which is still in effect. CCSD is not issuing any new water or wastewater connections.


CHAPTER 3. Water Shortage Emergencies [350 - 359]

  ( Chapter 3 added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 140. ) 350.

The governing body of a distributor of a public water supply, whether publicly or privately owned and including a mutual water company, may declare a water shortage emergency condition to prevail within the area served by such distributor whenever it finds and determines that the ordinary demands and requirements of water consumers cannot be satisfied without depleting the water supply of the distributor to the extent that there would be insufficient water for human consumption, sanitation, and fire protection.


Wait List

The waiting list for new water and sewer hookups was established in 1986. The list was closed to new applications on December 31, 1990 in cooperation with the County's 1990 Growth Management Ordinance, which limited all new county wide growth to 2.3% annually. Due to concerns about Cambria's water availability, the County reduced Cambria's growth limit to 1% in 2000. The current growth rate set by the County for Cambria is 0%.


Below are the current residential, commercial and multi-family wait lists.  For more information, please contact the CCSD at 805-927-6116.


The information provided below represents those properties on the CCSD wait list as of 7/27/2017:

Intent To Serve Letters

An Intent to Serve Letter is part of the water hookup process. It states that the CCSD will provide water and sewer service to a residential or commercial building project if there is sufficient water, if fees are paid on time, and if all steps are completed satisfactorily. However, Intent to Serve Letters issued prior to November of 2001 will be honored by the CCSD.


If you currently have an intent to serve letter and need an extension, please complete the Intent to Serve Letter Extension Application.


Water Transfers

Grandfather Meters and Active Service Transfers: These two types of water meters do not require that you wait for an "Intent to Serve" letter from the Waiting list. However there are certain fees and requirements associated with these meters. Please contact the CCSD at 805-927-6116 with questions about water transfers or grandfathered meters.


Retrofits & Remodels

Retrofit-To-Build: Approximately 20 years ago the CCSD implemented a retrofit program to replace plumbing fixtures in existing residences and businesses with water-conserving fixtures such as shower heads and toilets. Currently, all new construction is required to meet both the State of California and CCSD standards. The retrofit requirement is based upon a combination of the square footage of the lot being built upon and the number of bathrooms being built. For more information please contact the CCSD at 805-927-6116.


Remodels/Additions/Change of Use: Please complete the Remodel/Addition/Reconstruction/Change of Use Application to request "Will Serve" letters for water/sewer and/or a Fire Plan Review. You may contact the Permit Counter at 927-6116 with any questions related to this application.


Retrofit Upon Resale: Current CCSD code requires that all buildings, whether residential or commercial, shall at the time of ownership be retrofitted, if not already so, exclusively with low-water use plumbing fixtures. These fixtures shall be installed and maintained, and shall now be replaced with fixtures which allow great water use. For a list of our requirements please click here.


Grandfather Meters and Active Service Transfers

These two types of water meters do not require that you wait for an "Intent to Serve" letter from the Waiting list. However there are certain fees and requirements associated with these meters. Please contact CCSD at 805-927-6116 with questions about water transfers or grandfathered meters.


Well Permits


Frequently Asked Questions

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 Water Master 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 of that size community.  Desalination was determined to be the best long-term, stable water source for Cambria.  The CCSD is currently working through permitting and funding issues.
  • On July 24, 2003, the CCSD Board unanimously voted to confirm the use of desalination as a long-term water supply project with the capacity of serving a maximum of 4,650 water connections. This number includes the current CCSD water users plus those on the water wait list.
  • Why is there a waiting 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 waiting list position, be sure to confirm that it is a CCSD Water List position, and not a County Building Permit waiting list position. You must have the Assessor's Parcel Number (APN) to access waiting list positions.

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, 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. Although it appears that the County will continue to annually set aside a number of building permit allocations for Cambria (they set aside 1% for each year from 2002 to 2004), that does not mean the entire number of building permit allocations will automatically be issued Intent to Serve letters. Only the CCSD Board of Directors can set the annual number of Intent letters for water service.

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.



Terms to help understand the CCSD water permit process



The process by which a change of ownership is accomplished for either a waiting list position, an intent to serve letter, or a connection permit.


Billing Period

Runs from meter read to meter read, every two months. Meters are read on the last three days of each even-numbered month, i.e. February, April, June, etc.


Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU)

The volume of water allocated for each class of water customer. One EDU is equal to the average monthly water use by a single-family dwelling during the summer season (May 1 to Oct. 31). All water and sewer connection fees are based on the EDU allocation for the class of project proposed. This is currently estimated at 12 units per billing period. There are 748 gallons or 100 cubic feet of water in one unit.


Intent to Serve

A letter stating the District will provide water and sewer services to a particular project upon satisfactory completion of a number of steps, timely payment of fees and availability of water.



A water meter connection fee that was paid or a water meter that was physically installed prior to 2/28/86, but is NOT currently in use; and pays minimum bi-monthly service fees to maintain that status.



A residential project built to house two or more families in either attached or detached units on a single parcel of property. Each unit must have its own water meter.


Position (relating to Transfers)

A waiting list position (single-family, multi-family, commercial or affordable housing list), or a valid Intent to Serve letter, Connection Permit or active service meter.



Level of water quality which is safe for human consumption.


Retired Parcel

A parcel from which a waiting list position or water meter has been transferred to another location. The retired parcel is permanently restricted from residential development unless it is legally merged with an adjacent parcel.



The act of removing water wasting fixtures and replacing them with water efficient fixtures. Approximately 20 years ago the CCSD implemented a retrofit program to replace plumbing fixtures in existing residences and businesses with water-conserving fixtures such as showerheads and toilets upon change of use or ownership. All new construction is required to meet the State of California and CCSD standards of retrofit. All new construction must offset its proposed water needs through retrofit of existing services. The retrofit requirement is based upon a combination of the square footage of the lot being built upon and the number of bathrooms being built.


Retrofit In-Lieu Fee

A fee paid directly to the District instead of replacing plumbing fixtures in existing structures. This funds large-scale water conservation projects.



A residential project designed to house one family.



The process by which a water position is moved from one location to another.


Waiting List Position

The CCSD maintains a list of water applicants, prioritized by date, who are waiting for the opportunity to build a project. Each waiting list position is preserved by payment of an Annual Wait List Fee, which is billed in July of each year.


Water Unit

748 gallons or 100 cubic feet of water