Services District curtailing operations amid crisis

The St. Lucie West Services District has geared up for the invisible hurricane called COVID-19.

“We’ll suspend any shutoffs at this point,” said Dennis Pickle, district manager. “Until this thing is corralled. We don’t know how long businesses will be closed.”

At press time the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection is reporting 173 confirmed cases of the coronavirus throughout the state. That’s sure to climb by publication time. Its “Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard” shows none of the confirmed cases in St. Lucie or surrounding counties. Broward County has 43 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Miami-Dade 32. Palm Beach county has nine at press time.

Although there are not confirmed cases in St. Lucie, businesses, governments, and not-for-profits have closed their doors heeding medical advice for people to practice social distancing to reduce transmissions. The services district, which provides water and sewer for St. Lucie West, is joining those closing their doors.

“I can’t close my billing department and keep my administration office open,” said Pickle. “We’re going to encourage people to pay online or use the drop boxes.”

The drop boxes are at the office, 450 SW Utility Drive. The website is Pickle said the district’s phone number will be on the boxes for those who need additional help to call and request admission into the office. That number is 772-340-0220. Folks can also email to get appointments.

Pickle said suspending shutoffs is more than a humanitarian gesture as folks face the economic fallout from COVID-19. He said water is a critical part of health regimens now more than ever as people need to wash their hands and bodies to prevent spreading COVID-19.

“We don’t want to be heartless and shut off water to people who need to remain clean,” he said.

Widely reported shortages of toilet paper will likely mean some resort to alternatives. Pickle asked the public to please not put toilet-paper alternatives down toilets.

“The baby wipes are the worst thing for the system,” he said. “It clogs pumps. Even paper towels and Kleenexes don’t dissolve like toilet paper does.”

He added, “I’d tell people be careful what they flush down the toilet. These things do not dissolve and can cause problems.”

Pickle urged those using alternatives to toilet paper to place them in sealed bags and into the garbage.

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