Some Canberra residents have been returned to the medieval practice of physical water-carting, after a big broken pipe knocked out supply for large parts of the ACT.

Water shortages are expected to continue as crews work around the clock to fix a burst main.

Residents of several suburbs have been told to cut back on usage by not showering, bathing or washing clothes or dishes unless absolutely necessary.

Water authorities have also advised residents not to drink water that appears “objectionable”.

The pipe burst on Monday night, meaning many houses have not had access to clear water since then. It has also resulted in the loss of huge amounts of water into residential areas.

A number of households have reported dirty-coloured water comign from their taps, and so water refill stations have been set up for residents affected by the discolouration.

A spokesperson for provider Actew Water told Fairfax Media that the broken pipe was so large, it would take days for it to be replaced.

The company does not have “an exact” timeframe for the fix, saying on Wednesday morning it could still be up to 48 hours.