In his daily column, Tavern of the Seas, David Biggs writes about how the Cape Town City Council came to it's calculated figure of 87 litres for water consumption.
In its infinite wisdom the Cape Town City Council has decreed that, because of the water crisis, we are all to limit ourselves to using only 87 litres of water each day.

That figure of 87 shows you right away that our honourable mayor is taking the crisis seriously. It’s obviously not simply a random number, like 50 litres, or 100 litres. It’s a precise, calculated figure of 87 litres.

It must have taken a great deal of research to arrive at that exact number. I lie awake at night marvelling at the precision of that number and wonder how many barrels of midnight oil were burned to arrive at it.

First, you have to know exactly how many people there are in the city. You send out researchers who come back and report: “Madam Mayor, as at 11.45am today, we have 4231373 people living in the city.”

“Thank you. Now we need to know exactly how much water we have in the City dams.”

A team of experts then sets out with measuring glasses, callipers, yardsticks, gumboots, a rubber dinghy and a scuba diver. The mayor now approaches the most delicate part of the equation. “How many days will it be before we run out of water ?”

A team of soothsayers, sangomas, hydrologists, faith healers, water diviners and a camel driver are assembled and instructed to come up with an “exact estimate” by noon next Tuesday.

Soon the water measuring team returns with its answer.

“Madam Mayor, the City owns 44378m3 million of water.”

Shortly before the deadline the soothsayers and sangomas return with their considered calculations.

“Madam Mayor, our existing water supplies, will be augmented by heavy rains on April 13, 2018.”

And the soothsayer adds,”Forsooth!”

The City mathematician bows his noble grey head and says “Mumble mumble mumble.”

He is then instructed to divide the number of cubic metres of water by the number of days until April 13 and divide the answer by 44378 million. After a minute of mathematical mumbling, he arrives at the precise figure of 93litres a day.

Then a messenger arrives from the department of population and reports: “Madam Mayor, since we started our deliberations a further 2580 immigrants have arrived from Zimbabwe and 3290 from the Eastern Cape, 402 people have emigrated to Britain and 8743 babies have been born in the City.”

The mayor throws down her official pencil in disgust, the mathematician throws his official calculator out of the window and a soothsayer says: “Oh Sooth!”

The committee member in charge of accuracy tosses two reams of paper into the waste paper basket and says: “Bugger this for a lark. I’m going home for supper.”

And that, dear readers is how theCity Council arrived at the precise figure of 87litres of water per person per day.

Last Laugh

The village parson was saddened to see Fred, who was one of his parishioners, staggering along, obviously drunk.

“Fred, Fred, haven’t I told you, time and time again, that alcohol is your worst enemy?” he said.

“Yeah, reverent, you has, but you’s also told me time and again that I should love mine enemies.”


* Biggs is a daily columnist for the Cape Argus

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus