All season, track and field fans have had a dilemma. With the JAAA schedule packed on every Saturday from the start of the year, hard choices have been made. If you saw the slip-surge 10.44-second run by Calabar High School’s Christopher Taylor at the Camperdown Classic, it meant you missed the determined 52.4 4x400m anchor leg by Junelle Bromfield for STETHS at the Western Relays. Choosing either one meant almost certainly missing the 51.91-metre record discus heave by Excelsior throws princess Shanice Love at the King of the Rings at the Antrim-Mountain View Avenue-based institution. That dilemma disappears on Saturday with the Gibson/McCook Relays. As is customary, there are no other meets on the JAAA schedule on the day when the Gibson/McCook Relays presents a feast for sprint fans. First staged as the Gibson Relays in 1973, the meet is a festival of speed. The 4×100-metre relay is at the foundation of the meet, with preparatory, primary, secondary and tertiary student-athletes all attempting to move their batons around the National Stadium track at high speed. Bordered by the meet-opening and meet-closing 4x400m relays, Gibson/McCook also has competitions in the 4x200m, 4x800m, the sprint medley and selected individual events. Jamaica has always loved the sprints, so while other meets have come and gone, the Relays has retained its appeal. Many view it as a prelude to the ISSA Boys and Girls’ Championships and use it as an indicator for the results of that high-energy high-school meet. Hence, the core of the support of the Gibson/McCook has long come from past students of the champion teams in the land. With no scheduling dilemma to split the attentions of the fan base, this Saturday should be no different. In recent years, interest has been boosted by the presence of superstars who have foregone the traditional move to the United States of America to study and train. This has given fans an early-season glance at Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Brigitte Foster-Hylton and the like. Very few have the opportunity to see them at the Olympics or the World Championships, so it’s a day aficionados cherish. Bolt has been a brilliant source of speed and excitement. His Racers team holds the men’s 4x100m record at a phenomenal 38.08 seconds. That was at the 2010 renewal, when the tall man also zipped through a 4x400m anchor leg in 44.2 seconds in vain. Last year, he made the news worldwide for a race his Racers team lost by inches, the men’s 4x100m to the University of Technology. Relays are the team event of athletics. It takes co-operation to pilot the baton, from start to finish, safely and quickly enough to win. The speed, the fine margins for error, and the excitement, has kept fans on the edge of their seats and on their feet during each of the previous 39 stagings of the event. Don’t be surprised if it happens again on Saturday. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.
South African residents and visitors tothe country can rest assured that the tap water is of the highest quality.(Image: SA Water Research Commission) MEDIA CONTACTS • Mava Scott Spokesperson, Dept of Water Affairs +27 12 336 8262 or +27 82 602 9640 RELATED ARTICLES • Cleaner water for Cape Town bathers • New solutions for water conservation • Better water supply for SA schools • A water-wise Lesotho adventure • SA’s biggest desalination plant opensSource: BuaNewsSouth Africa’s drinking water is among the best to be found anywhere, and the country remains among a few in the world where water can safely be consumed from the tap, said water affairs minister Edna Molewa.Molewa was releasing the 2012 Blue Drop report during the Water Institute of Southern Africa’s 2012 conference and exhibition, taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.Introduced in September 2008, the Blue Drop certification programme encourages local municipalities to improve their water quality management while keeping consumers informed about the water they’re drinking. It was launched by Molewa’s predecessor, Buyelwa Sonjica.Molewa noted a significant improvement over the previous year’s results – she said 98 municipalities were this year awarded Blue Status, up from 66 last year.The average national Blue Status score jumped from 72.9% last year to 87.6% this year.All nine provinces showed progress in their 2012 Blue Drop results when compared to 2011. The scores have improved every year since the first Blue Drop report was released in 2009 with a national average of 51.4%.A score of 100% is rated as exceptional. A score between 95% and 99% mean that the municipality is managing its drinking water quality with excellence, while a score from 80% and 95% are rated as very good. A score between 60% and 80% is rated as good, and a score between 50% and 60% is reasonable. Below 50% means that improvement is needed.Assessing more than just water qualityIn all, 931 water systems within 153 of South Africa’s 287 municipalities were audited for this year’s report.Molewa stressed that just because a municipality was not awarded Blue Drop status, did not mean that its water was unfit for human consumption.This is because Blue Drop certification goes beyond the quality of drinking water to include aspects such as risk management, operations and asset management of water services.The programme is not voluntary, but is an incentive-based regulatory initiative which requires water services institutions to provide information in line with the legislative requirements of Section 62 of the Water Services Act.In this year’s Blue Drop report, Ekurhuleni in Gauteng came out as the top scoring municipality, with a score of 98.95%. It was followed by the City of Johannesburg with 98.92% and Mogale City with 98.79%.Ethekwini in KwaZulu-Natal, Tlokwe in the North West and the City of Cape Town were the next highest scoring municipalities, respectively.The top performing province is Gauteng – with a score of 98.1%, followed by the Western Cape (94.2%) and KwaZulu-Natal (92.9%), respectively.The remaining six provinces all notched up scores below that of the national average of 87.6% – with Mpumalanga ranked as the worst performing province at 60.9%, followed by Northern Cape (68.2%).The greatest improvement was seen in the North West province, with an increase from 62.3% in 2011 to 78.7% in 2012.Molewa commended the Victor Kanye Local Municipality (formerly Delmas), in Mpumalanga, which increased its score from 18.26% last year to 80.07% this year.She also congratulated the Thembisile Local Municipality, also in Mpumalanga, which increased its score from 27.77% to 78.30%.Tackling problem areasHowever, Molewa said she was concerned about the worst scoring municipality – Koukamma (5.6%) – and iKwezi (7.9%) both in the Eastern Cape, which are among 15 municipalities that have received warnings over the quality of their water.“Communities have been informed not to drink the tap water without improving the quality first by either boiling or using other methods of purification,” she said, adding that her department was working closely with these municipalities to bring the water quality up to standard.Molewa said despite the 15 warnings, her department now knew where the problems were and would be attending to them.Helgard Muller, acting deputy director-general of policy and regulation at the department, said the involvement of water boards and the private sector were key to improving the management of water services.While other countries’ water audits only looked at the quality of water, the Department of Water Affairs also considered risk management and asset management in the Blue Drop report.Of the 98 municipalities that achieved Blue Drop certification, 38 were serviced by water boards and about 20 by the private sector.