Cape Town residents told water supply likely to be cut off

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The city council vote to curtail De Lille's influence in managing the drought response came after the DA federal executive instructed its Cape Town caucus to put deputy mayor Ian Neilson and MMC Xanthea Limberg in charge instead.

The drought-stricken city announced on Thursday that it will begin marking 200 collection points where its 3.7 million residents will be required to queue for a rationed supply of water on "Day Zero" - now forecast to be April 21. "We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water - we must force them", De Lille said as she announced a raft of tough new measures to fend-off the so-called "Day Zero" standpipe scenario, now forecast for April 21. But only around half of all households in Cape Town are sticking to the limit.

Residents will be limited to 50 litres of water per person per day. The study ran from 2003 to 2013 and found that in 21 of the world's largest aquifers, more water was removed than replaced during the decade.

'In January 2016, Capetonians as a whole were using 1.1 billion litres of a water a day.

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After Day Zero, residents will have to go to one of 200 municipal water points throughout the city where they can collect a maximum of 25 litres.

The researchers used the GRACE satellites to take precise measurements of the world's groundwater aquifers and detected subtle changes in the Earth's gravitational pull, noting where the heavier weight of water exerted a greater pull on the orbiting spacecraft.

Thanks to abundant rainfall, "98% of Cape Town's water supply comes from surface water, and we haven't [historically] explored a range of other water alternatives", Kevin Winter, a senior lecturer in environmental science at the University of Cape Town, told Al Jazeera.

It has also asked residents to limit their showers to a couple minutes, stop watering their lawns, no washing of cars, and flush toilets only when necessary.

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"We have reached a point of no return". Major dams in the Western Cape province that supply the city have dropped to 28.7% of capacity compared with 43% a year ago and 93% in 2014, figures on the city's website show.

But officials themselves have faced criticism for failing to implement usage restrictions sooner, and have been accused of ignoring warnings by experts in the years before the drought.

Strong summer rains saw much of southern Africa recover from a drought induced by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

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