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 805-927-6223.


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.  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 and submit it to the CCSD Admin Office with the required $200 deposit. Applications and supporting documentation can be emailed to mbland@cambriacsd.org; however, processing can not commence until the deposit is received at our office.


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 wait list; however, there are certain fees and requirements associated with these meters. Please contact the CCSD 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.


Remodels / Additions / Reconstruction / 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. Email Melissa Bland, Engineering Assistant & Permit Compliance Specialist, at mbland@cambriacsd.org with any questions. You may submit all application materials electronically; however, processing will not begin until the required deposit is received at our office. Download a fillable PDF application at the link below:


Remodels / Additions / Reconstruction / Change-of-Use Application

UPDATED 4/13/2018. Please use current version.


To schedule a Retrofit Inspection, please call the CCSD Admin office at 805-927-6223.


Retrofit Upon Resale: Current CCSD code requires that all existing residential buildings shall, at the time of change of ownership, be retrofitted, if not already so, exclusively with high-effficiency water-use plumbing fixtures. Please refer to the CCSD Retrofit Upon Resale guide for more information.


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 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.  You can view the current CCSD Water Wait List here.

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.



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