First stage of repairing burst water pipe in Meath completed

A specially engineered section of pipe has been manufactured to fix the burst water main

First stage of repairing burst water pipe in Meath completed

Residents using the water station service in Termon Abbey, Drogheda, 25-07-2017. Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews

Updated 21:12

Irish Water says the first stage of repairing the burst water pipe in Co Meath has been completed.

Water has been gradually released into the pipe after a specially made patch was inserted to try and fix the problem.

If there are no further issues, the water supply should start to return on Thursday.

However it will take several days for all homes to receive it.

Irish Water says reservoir levels are continuing to slowly refill, and the Staleen Water Treatment Plant is back in production.

"Careful management of water entering the water main is taking place", it adds.

Up to 100,000 people have been affected by the outages in Meath and Louth.

Terry Collins from College Rise in Drogheda has not had water since last Thursday.

"The biggest problem is washing clothes, it's small things like getting up in the morning and washing - there's no water.

"You're washing with water that's been maybe lying for a few days - but we just get by.

"We're not happy about it, but we just have to find the resilience to get by".

Local Councillor Paddy Meade is hopeful it will work.

"I'm quite optimistic - I know a lot of people are saying this is the fourth time 'round - but what I've been telling people from the very start when they first went to fix it is the last three times, the fittings were not the right size.

"This time, it is the right size fitting - so I'd be a lot more hopeful".

A specially engineered section of pipe was manufactured in Belfast

Households in Drogheda and East Meath woke up to their sixth day without water on Wednesday.

Specially engineered section of pipe to be installed at the Staleen Water Treatment Plant, 26-07-207. Image: Irish Water

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy told Newstalk Breakfast earlier that due to Ireland's ageing water infrastructure, similar problems could occur in other parts o the country moving forward:

"It is a very, very old piece of infrastructure and it is an essential piece of infrastructure and it hasn't been maintained over decades," he said.

"So a significant piece of work is needed on a national level to rebuild large sections of pipe, to improve sections of pipe, to put in group metering sections to detect leakages and everything else.

"That was one of the motivations for setting up a national utility."

Significant risk to public health

On The Pat Kenny Show, Dr Peter Finnegan, a specilaist in public health warned that the ongoing crisis poses a significant risk to residents in the area:

"People don't realise that we use about 50 gallons on average each day for various purposes - washing, cleaning drinking etc," he said. "So, when our water supply is cut off it is a big shock to the system."

"When we have not got clean safe water, it is quite a risk to public health."

Emergency response

The Defence Forces have been deployed to help man the 43 tanks and 100 temporary water stations that have been set up across the region.

They are also providing two 10,000 litre water bowsers and four 1,000 litre water bowsers to help Irish Water deal with the crisis.

The Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy talks to Angela Quinn a resident of the Stameen Estate in Drogheda yesterday, 26-07-2017. Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews

Meanwhile, Minister Murphy visited the north east on Tuesday - and apologised to residents as the disruption continues:

“I’m very sorry for all of the people who have experienced these severe water shortages,” he said.

“We have had them all over the country over the past number of years, we had them in my own constituency in Dublin as well.

“We had the tankers out in the streets; people coming to get water so they could give their kids baths, people without water for more than a week – so I know how difficult it is for people when they face this kind of situation.”

In addition to fears over whether the Drogheda pipe will hold once the water is turned back on – there are growing concerns that similar bursts may occur in other areas across the country due to ageing infrastructure.

Kevin Callan, a local councillor for Louth said the people in the area cannot put up with such uncertainty over the water supply.

“The problem might just be passed three metres down and the pipe might explode again so I have said to them today, ‘you have no contingency plan.’”

“’Over 200,000 people affected now in the entire north east region and you have no resources to deal with this.’”

He said that while the pipe is being repaired it is not being replaced – and in three weeks time, “something else might explode and we are back to this again and the people can’t put up with this anymore.”

Additional reporting: Jack Quann