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Water shortages set to continue in burst pipes battle

Dublin householders will be hit by further water shortages in coming weeks as local authorities get to grips with burst and frozen pipes.

Residents across the city have been warned to expect intermittent periods of restrictions.

Water pressure in the city and county remained low today following a restriction of supply over the weekend.

And to add insult to injury, thousands of homeowners will also have to pay to replace service pipes into their properties.

The authorities said that there would be a full restoration of water supply this morning, but that it would take some time for the water to make its way through the pipe network.

"Supplies should be restored throughout the entire county by mid to late morning," a spokesman for South Dublin County Council said.

Dublin City Council said that the situation had improved considerably within the last week and engineers have identified and fixed up to 20 leaks a day.

But they said that work will continue over the next few weeks to fix the pipes.

"It will take time before we are back in the comfortable zone," a spokesman for Dublin City Council said. "It will take a couple of months before the water reservoirs have returned to full levels and to locate all of the burst pipes."

The spokesman outlined that water supply and pressure will depend on the topography and location of the households.

Errors

Meanwhile, Minister for the Environment John Gormley has revealed that leaking water mains will be repaired at a cost of €300m over the next three years. The figure has increased by five times the budget, but cash will be taken from budgets for existing water services.

The announcement is designed to tackle high-leakage rates across the network, which can result in 16.8pc to 58.6pc of all water treated by local authorities being lost because of leaking pipes, illegal connections and meter errors.

The department is examining various options to ensure delivery of metering in the most cost-effective manner, but it is expected that the rollout of meters will begin next year, after which householders will be charged on the basis of their water usage.

"We are playing a huge game of catch-up with our water infrastructure following decades of under-investment," Mr Gormley said. "Exchequer investment in water infrastructure has increased to an average of €500m per annum since 2007, and the €4.6bn the State has spent in the last decade is paying dividends.

However, the difficulties experienced by thousands of householders across the country show there are still issues with our water infrastructure and consumption of water that need to be addressed."

Some 1,600 million litres of water are treated daily by local authorities; 540 to 550 million litres for the wider Dublin area.

Mr Gormley said this morning that the low density of people, the network of pipes and the age of pipes in some areas have caused the problems.

There is up to 28pc water going missing from systems throughout the country.

clairemurphy@herald.ie