Tens of thousands of people in Northern Ireland are still without water in their homes and the head of the company behind the crisis has been urged to resign, according to reports.
People across the region have been without running water for 11 days after pipes burst during the cold weather.
Engineers are still trying to fix leaking pipes to around 80 towns and villages, increasing worry that a major health emergency may now be on the cards.
But the head of Northern Ireland Water (NIW), Laurence McKenzie, insists the problems were caused by the rapid thaw which followed the cold spell, although he admitted “there is a lot for this organisation to learn”.
The Stormont Executive meet in Belfast on Friday to figure out what other action is necessary, while the effectiveness of management at NIW is increasingly called into question.
SDLP Assembly member John Dallat said McKenzie must quit now. “The company is now effectively being run by people who have no experience of water utilities. No-one should be in any doubt that this crisis didn’t begin with the first snowflake. NIW has been in crisis for a very long time so it should come as no surprise that there was no contingency plan and a complete breakdown in how to manage the situation,” he said.
However, deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said NIW’s performance will be looked at later and that this wasn’t the time for resignations.
McKenzie said his immediate focus was to get all customers back on supply. “We had a very rapid thaw. Temperatures changed from -16ºC to 10°C in a very short space of time. It was the rapid thaw which caused the problems.”
“I think there is a lot for this organisation to learn.”