Dublin City Council worker Bill Laigh fills bottles of water for Adrian Binu in Artane, Dublin

HOUSEHOLDS across the country are being asked to reduce water consumption this week due to ongoing problems with supply shortages and distribution.

Despite critically low levels of water in Dublin, officials warned that demand was now at "an all-time high".

Freezing weather conditions and householders letting taps run to avoid frozen pipes have contributed to the ongoing national shortage.

Burst water mains and pipes have been the main cause of the shortage and in Dublin water tankers were dispatched to assist the public.

This weekend, local authorities around the country were continuing to update the public on the supply situation with ongoing appeals to reduce usage.

"Dublin City Council is calling on the public, businesses, schools and everybody in the community to conserve water," a message on the council website said yesterday. "This is because water levels are at a critically low level and demand is at an all-time high."

The council said it was continuing to reduce pressure throughout its supply system in order to conserve water.

The capital's three other local authorities in Fingal, south Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown have issued updates and appeals on shortages in affected areas.

Cork County Council's website urged: "The public is again asked to conserve water with demand on many systems which are pumping/generating at full or over capacity."

In Galway, people were advised to keep consumption to an "absolute minimum". Some restrictions were expected on supplies over the weekend in order to allow reservoir levels to rise.

South Tipperary County Council warned that numerous areas would be left without night-time supplies, from 7pm to 7am, until further notice.

The website stressed: "Please do not leave taps and other supplies running overnight. This practice causes a reduction in the water available and will lead to interruptions in the supply."

North Tipperary County Council was also continuing to update the public of individual area shortages while in Waterford residents were receiving updates on their own "severe difficulties".

In Cavan, the local authority was forced to switch off supplies to both the town centre and its environs.

Things were looking better for Limerick where water production was in line with demand thanks, in part, to the public reaction to appeals against over-consumption.

There were, however, warnings that a lack of pressure and occasional shut-offs in supply could still be expected.

The problems facing the country were put down to a "shambolic" water network by Fine Gael, which said that 43% of the supply was leaking through faulty pipes.

Brian Smyth, Dublin City Council's chief sanitary services engineer, said: "Our main objective is to get water back to everybody but it will probably take five months to get rid of leaks in the pipes from joints failing when the thaw sets in."