Water supply crisis in Louth and Meath 'will be resolved by Thursday'
One of Irish Water's top managers has insisted that the water supply crisis affecting 60,000 homes and businesses in Louth and Meath will be resolved by Thursday.
Michael Cunniffee, water infrastructure lead for Irish Water, also said that despite "critically low" reservoir levels he is confident there is enough supply to ration between households until repair work is completed on the burst main pipe.
Mr Cunniffee estimated that around 60,000 people have been affected after supplies had to be shut off on Friday to allow repair works to a water main at the Staleen Water Treatment Plant to be carried out.
Water tankers and containers have been mobilised across the country, including from Northern Ireland Water, to replenish water supplies.
Irish Water had hoped supply could be restored by Monday, however repair work has been more challenging than initially anticipated.
"With all the options we are exploring I would be confident enough that repairs will be in place and well under way to restoring full supply by Thursday," Mr Cunniffee said.
He added: "Our two main service reservoirs are currently very critically depleted.
"However, when demand goes down at night we are able to replenish those reservoirs somewhat in order for us to resupply the critical areas and still maintain our rationing arrangement that we have in place."
Staleen Water Treatment Plant supplies drinking water to Drogheda and surrounding areas, as well as parts of south Louth and east Meath, including Ashbourne and Ratoath.
The burst is located over four metres underground and requires a complex repair.
The age of the pipe has made repair work even more difficult, Irish Water said.
Mr Cunniffee warned a similar crisis could occur again because of years of under-investment in the water network infrastructure.
"With the lack of investment in the structure, that is one of the risks Irish Water has to deal with.
"When we were formed nearly four years ago we took on the infrastructure in poor condition.
"Our investment plans will go to try and replace those high-risk mains," he said.
Temporary water stations have been established at 21 locations in affected areas.
Louth Labour Senator Ged Nash has hit out at the "cack-handed response" of the authorities to the crisis.
"Frustration is growing by the hour as Irish Water's own deadlines continue to be missed.
"The patience of the people of Drogheda has been stretched to the limit because of poor and unclear information, missed deadlines and entirely inadequate contingency plans," he said.
Meanwhile 3,500 households in Co Laois were left without water on Monday due to a mechanical failure of a pump at the Galmoy Water Treatment Plant.