Overflow: a civil defence member fixes a burst fire hydrant in Dublin

THE extent of further water cuts in Dublin will only become clear today after experts examine the consequences of easing restrictions on New Year's Eve.

While it is anticipated that most of the country will return to a relative state of normality over the coming days, the situation in the capital is far less certain due to the level of demand.

The reopening of schools and businesses this week after Christmas may also affect supply.

However, the Department of the Environment said that based on a slight drop-off in demand last week it is hopeful that New Year's celebrations across the city will not have had a detrimental impact.

"Outside of Dublin things will get back to normal in the next few days and by that I mean as far as the consumer is concerned there will be a regular supply of water," said Gerry Galvin, principal adviser for water services at the Department of the Environment.

"We will assess the impact on Sunday but having seen the improvements of the Dublin situation over the last two nights we would hope that it will not be that significant."

Homeowners and businesses will be eager for normal services to resume following ongoing shortages in the wake of severe weather conditions throughout December.

Efforts to locate and repair burst water pipes around the country have meant that local authorities have had to reduce supply in order to safeguard water stocks.

A sub-committee of the National Severe Weather Coordination Committee (NSWCC) said that while the situation is stabilising, some nighttime restrictions may have to remain in place while reservoirs are fully replenished.

The public, particularly in Dublin, is being asked to maintain its conservation.

Meanwhile, councils across the country are maintaining efforts to secure supply and their websites are posting updates on local situations.

While things are improving around the country there may be some pockets – including parts of Wicklow, Galway and Mayo – that continue to experience rationing.

Louth County Council has entered into an agreement to provide the Northern Ireland Water Service (NIW) with at least 100,000 litres a day following severe shortages in the Newry area.

There was growing pressure this weekend on NIW board members to resign following a catastrophe in supply over Christmas.

South of the border, Galvin dismissed any suggestion that lessons had not been learned from similar problems encountered last winter, pointing out that council staff had taken precautionary measures, even if they weren't obvious to the public.

The Department of the Environment has provided €50m to Dublin's four local authorities to facilitate replacements and ongoing repairs to about 100km of mains pipes.