A little more than two months ago, July 26, 2021, the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District brought online an automated self-service bulk water fill station. The station will provide water primarily to contractors and anyone needing small amounts, minimum of 200 gallons, of non-potable bulk water.
Users without an account can pull up to the kiosk and pay for their water via cash or credit card. Those who have established an account with the PPHCSD can simply use their access code and will be billed for their water usage. The minimum amount of water that can be purchased is 200 gallons; currently, there is no upper limit to the amount of water purchased. The cost for those who have an account is .01 cents per gallon and for on-site purchases is .05 cents per gallon. The kiosk accepts $5, $10, $20, and $100 bills and cannot give change.
There are two options for filling; one is through an overhead fill, suitable for filling water trucks which can provide water at about 200 gallons per minute. The second is via a hose that is larger than a garden hose which can be used to fill totes, containers, or other tanks; it fills at about 90 gallons per minute.
While coming from the same water system that provides water to thousands of homes and businesses within the district, the water is classified as non-potable or non-drinking water. This is mainly due to the fact that the PPHCSD has no way of guaranteeing the quality of water once it has left its system into a water truck or container.
The decision to install the fill station stems from the recent increase in water theft. Water thieves steal water from PPHCSD hydrants, often using the wrong tools to make connections, rendering the hydrants inoperable when needed for such functions as fighting fires. The cost to repair hydrants often reaches over $1000. The fill station also allows everyone to have equal access to non-potable water, such as those who live too far from a District water line.
The system has been used just over 800 times in its first month of operation and has served about 1.6 million gallons of water. District employees see less evidence of water theft and spend less time providing water to contractors because the process is now fully automated. Prior, contractors would have to apply for a meter, pay a deposit, permit fee, and water usage, which took many staff hours to coordinate and bill.
The filling station is located in Phelan on Sheep Creek Road and Cayucos Road. It is open 24 hours. Those interested in a bulk water account can contact the PPHCSD at 760-868-1212.