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A new pipe part has been fitted - but the Louth/Meath water crisis could continue into the weekend

It may take several days for full water service to be restored to everyone.

A NEW PIPE part has been fitted to replace the burst pipe that has left around 70,000 people in Louth and east Meath without water – but the repair is still in its first stage.

Work has been underway since this morning to replace the broken pipe with a special fitting that was manufactured in Belfast. This is the fourth attempt to try to fix the ruptured pipe since Friday.

Ervia confirmed at 4.10pm this afternoon that the first stage of the pipe repair is complete.

Image The new pipe was fitted this afternoon. Source: Ervia

Careful management of water entering the main is now taking place and the flow and pressure of the water are being increased gradually to test the pipe.

As the water begins to be reintroduced into the pipe, it will put increasing pressure on the pipe, its connections and all other vulnerable points in the water main, leaving Irish Water with no option but to do it “very slowly to minimise the risk of further bursts”.

When the problem was first announced, locals were told it would be fixed on Saturday, but the deadline continued to be stretched out as time went on. Yesterday Irish Water said it would probably be Friday “and maybe even the weekend” before normal water services are restored.

In its latest statement, Ervia said: “As the reservoirs fill it is anticipated that supply will begin to be restored to customers over the coming days, beginning on Thursday.”

The company did, however, say that it may take several days for full service to be restored to everyone, particularly those on high grounds and at the edge of the affected water network.

Continued temporary water supply

Mobile tankers are continuing to deliver water to vulnerable customers around Drogheda, Clogherhead and Termonfeckin.

A permanent supply still remains in the priority areas of Drogheda, including Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

20170726_115424_resized A longer-term replacement for the pipe could need a budget of €2-3 million

There are a number of stationary tanks and bulk water containers in place for people to get water, details of which can be found on the Irish Water website.

In an earlier statement, the company reminded customers to bring clean containers and to boil the water as a precautionary measure. Customers in theses areas are also being asked to conserve water until further notice.

Long-term plan

Ervia says it will take at least 18 months and around €2-€3 million to fully replace the 2.2km pipeline.

In its latest statement, Ervia said:

A detailed programme for complete replacement will take a number of weeks to finalise. We will need to undertake detailed planning and design work before we can be confident around the exact time-frame for this to happen.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ 1 earlier today, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy discussed the state of water pipes in other parts of the country. He said:

“There are competing priorities for Irish Water all over the country in terms of antiquated pipes that need to be fixed.”

20170726_115752_resized Many homes in the North East could remain without water until the weekend. Source: Ervia

Addressing criticism of Irish Water’s response to the situation in the North East, Murphy said that a huge coordinated response did kick in once it became a national emergency.

People need to stop trying to undermine the good work that Irish Water is trying to do.

Head of Irish Water Jerry Grant said Irish Water needs €3.5 billion up until 2021.

Yesterday he told Morning Ireland that it has money for this year, but needs €640 million next year and €700 million in 2019. When asked if that money is guaranteed, Murphy said:

It’s not guaranteed at the moment … we’re in discussions at the moment about how we’re going to find that certainty so Irish Water can make strategic plans over a number of years.

Read: Concerns North East water crisis could happen in other parts of the country

More: Supermarkets as far south as Dublin are being cleared out of water as shortage enters sixth day

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