When you RV, you expect access to free dump stations as part of your camping fees at state, national, and private campgrounds. However, California parks have been transitioning to automated dump stations that charge a fee for the service.
Let’s examine why California is adding paid, automated RV dump stations at the state’s beaches, parks, campgrounds, and recreation areas and learn what they cost.
Fee-based dump stations are becoming more common across the US, but stay here to find out where you’ll find them in California and how they work, so you will know what to expect on your next RV trip!
Why California Parks Use Paid Automated RV Dump Stations
In 2018, California began adding fee-based RV dump stations to some state parks and recreation areas as a test. The state hoped to create an income stream to help cover the costs of building and maintaining the dump stations and add them to parks where visitors would appreciate the amenity.
The state wanted to gain feedback from the public about paying for dump station use, and the first ten automated stations in the pilot program proved successful.
One aspect of the automated dump stations was to offset the costs of pumping and treating waste from recreational vehicles.
However, another issue was the environmental damage from people illegally dumping chemicals, oil, and other fluids that cause harm into unregulated free dump stations. Closing off easy access to sewer drains deters illegal dumping and will help protect the water systems within California.
The positive impact of the initial trial run of paid, automated dump stations let the state expand the service to 11 more locations, for a current total of 21.
The state plans to install more fee-based dump stations in state parks, which alters how the RV community thinks when choosing to camp at state facilities, as most agree that campground fees should cover the cost of dump station use.
How to Use an Automated RV Dump Station
Using one of California’s automated dump stations starts by pulling up to the designated area and parking your RV. Prep your sewer hoses by connecting them to your RV waste tank valves, so you are ready to dump once you pay the fee at the self-serve kiosk.
The payment kiosk will be nearby, where you will insert a credit card to cover the $10 (current) charge. The kiosks do not accept cash.
Once you pay, the locking mechanism that seals the sewer drain shut will release. You then have 60 seconds to open the drain line to insert your RV sewer hose.
Be careful not to let the drain cover shut until your dump is complete because it will automatically relock once it closes. Also, remember to leave the RV sewer hose in place until you rinse it out with clean water so all the dirty water goes into the sewer system.
After you finish at the station, the cover will lock until the next guest comes along. Aside from paying at the kiosk and unlocking the sewer drain cover, using the dump station will be the same as when you’re at a campground or rest area.
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Who Can Use Automated Dump Stations in California
The automated RV dump stations are available for campground guests, park day-use visitors, and RVers passing through the area looking for a place to drop their tanks. Some trucks and boat owners with waste tanks can also use the dump stations as long as they can maneuver into the site safely.
Some automatic dump station locations are unsuitable for large RVs or other vehicles. Many guests with mid-to-long fifth wheels and Class A motorcoaches complain that they have difficulty parking near the sewer drain without sticking out into the main road of travel.
How RVers Feel About California Paid, Automated RV Dump Stations
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The largest complaint RVers have with the new fee-based dump stations in state parks is that the cost is no longer part of the campsite fee, and the extra expense can burden people trying to camp on a budget.
For non-campground guests, paying a fee to dump waste tanks is common and, therefore, not an issue. Private RV parks, truck stops, and travel centers charge anywhere from $5 to $30 to use their dumping facility, and transient RVers plan for such expenses.
Unfortunately, some RVers with full waste tanks that encounter a fee-based dump station will illegally dump onto the ground instead of searching for a free or lower-cost dump station nearby.
A benefit RV owners find with the new automated dump stations is that the facilities are in good working order and are often cleaner than older or free stations.
RVers also like how easy it is to locate the automated RV dump stations online to know where to go to empty tanks or what state parks to avoid if they don’t want the additional cost when camping.
Automated RV Dump Station Locations in California
Here is the current list of dump stations found in California state parks, beaches, and recreation areas, including the number of stations and the fee rate:
|Cuyamaca Rancho State Park||2 stations||$10 fee|
|Hearst San Simeon State Park||2 stations||$10 fee|
|MacKerricher State Park||2 stations||$10 fee|
|Malibu Creek State Park||1 station||$10 fee|
|Morro Bay State Park||1 station||$10 fee|
|Red Rock Canyon State Park||1 station||$20 fee|
|Saddleback Butte State Park||1 station||$10 fee|
|Van Damme State Park||1 station||$10 fee|
State Historical Parks
|Colonel Allensworth State Historical Park||1 station||$10 fee|
|Doheny State Beach||1 station||$10 fee|
|Half Moon Bay State Beach||1 station||$10 fee|
|Huntington State Beach||1 station||$10 fee|
|New Brighton State Beach||4 stations||$10 fee|
|Pismo State Beach||1 station||$10 fee|
|San Elijo State Beach||2 stations||$10 fee|
|San Onofre State Beach||6 stations||$10 fee|
|Silver Strand State Beach||1 station||$10 fee|
|South Carlsbad State Beach||2 stations||$10 fee|
State Recreation Areas
|Lake Perris – 3 stations – $10 fee||3 stations||$10 fee|
|Oceano Dunes||3 stations||$10 fee|
|Silverwood Lake||2 stations||$10 fee|
The changes California is making to its state parks by installing paid and automated RV dump stations will help the environment and provide a source of income to keep the facilities in good working order.
If you’re planning a visit to California state beach or campgrounds, refer to the list above to know if you’ll get a chance to use one of these new RV dump stations and see if you give it a thumbs up.
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