Householders and businesses still without water supplies in parts of counties Louth and Meath

Thousands of homes and businesses have been left without water since the water main in Staleen, Co Meath, burst last Thursday. Picture by RTÉ

HOUSEHOLDERS and businesses in parts of counties Louth and Meath may have to wait until the weekend before their water supplies are returned.

The Defence Forces has been called in to help tens of thousands of people who remain without water five days after a pipe burst in Staleen, Co Meath.

Irish Water said it was also liaising with the Irish army to see what support they can provide in supplying alternative water supplies to the 60,000 residents in counties Meath and Louth who have been deprived of regular supplies.

Water tankers, including many from Northern Ireland Water, were deployed again in several areas today to supplement the burst water main.

A programme of rationing remains in place in Drogheda town, Clogherhead and Termonfeckin to help manage the remaining water resources in the area.

At first people were told the issue would be resolved last Saturday, but as the days have went on the problems have remained.

But Irish Water today said it could be Friday "and maybe even the weekend".

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Jerry Grant from Irish Water said because of the complexity of the piping it had not been possible to carry out the repairs in the normal time frame.

He said fixing the damage "is a really messy job" adding that the only way to repair the pipe was to have a replacement piece made to fit in Northern Ireland, which would be installed tomorrow.

But in a statement, the company said it hoped to complete the repair by Thursday but added that when the water main is repaired it could take a number of days before full supply is restored.

Thirty-three road tankers from across the island have been deployed to supplement the mains water supply, to replenish temporary water stations and to supply priority customers. More than 90 water containers are in place across Louth and Meath.

Irish Water said Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda had been prioritised to maintain supply to the hospital and supply was also being maintained to several parts of the town, including the commercial centre.

A shortage of bottled water in the Drogheda area has also led some stores to limit the amount sold per customer.

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