More than 60,000 homes face a night without water in Northern Ireland as engineers temporarily cut off supplies to allow depleted reservoirs to refill.
While progress has been made reconnecting properties left without any water during the burst pipes crisis, thousands more people, the majority in the east of the region, will have their supply switched off for up to 12 hours.
Around 2,600 homes are still without any supply at all, despite more than 2,500 being reconnected on Saturday.
But with water still pouring out of leaks in the system, under-fire Government-owned utility Northern Ireland Water (NIW) has had to extend its on/off rotation system to other homes in order to replenish reservoirs. This is despite earlier expressing hope that the rotation would soon be discontinued.
While 500 NIW staff battled to restore supplies to the region’s crippled system, vandals were blamed for emptying out almost 5,000 gallons of water from temporary tanks in one of the badly hit areas in Coalisland, Co Tyrone.
People arriving at bowsers at the Gortgonis Park centre to collect drinking water today found that the valves had been opened overnight. NIW replaced the tanks this afternoon.
“NI Water would condemn the vandalism which took place in Coalisland overnight which resulted in 5,000 gallons of water released from a water bowser,” said a spokesman for the company.
Local Assembly member Francie Molloy, of Sinn Fein, said: “Why anyone would open valves knowing it would deprive their own community of water is beyond me. It’s absolutely crazy.”
Away from Coalisland, the areas worst affected by the water failures are Cookstown, Co Tyrone, Hannahstown near Belfast, and Burren and Warrenpoint in Co Down.
Louth County Council in the Republic of Ireland has agreed to supply water from its treatment plant in Dundalk to its neighbouring local authority across the border in Newry and Mourne.