Devon and Cornwall's bathing waters are best in Europe - it's official.
The South West has cleaner bathing waters than Europe's leading holiday resorts, according to a new EU report.
In the 2006 results for bathing water quality, the region has beaten Europe's most popular tourist destinations including the French Riviera, the Algarve, the Costa Del Sol and the Balearic Islands.
Last summer, all of the 144 bathing waters across Devon and Cornwall passed the mandatory EU standards. A record achievement.
Stephen Bird, Operations Director, South West Water, said: "This report demonstrates what an incredible contribution Clean Sweep has made to the South West over the last 18 years. It was one of Europe's biggest environmental programmes and has now produced Europe's cleanest bathing waters.
"We have already spent £1.5 billion on getting rid of over 220 crude sewage outfalls and this year we are spending a further £8.7 million improving the few remaining stretches of the Cornish coastline yet to benefit from Clean Sweep.
"We are also confident we are ready for this summer and will be going all out to maintain our proud record on bathing water quality."
Robin Barker, Deputy Chief Executive, South West Tourism, said: "All the research we do confirms the fact that beaches and our coastline are one of the very top reasons people visit the South West.
"The Clean Sweep programme may have been painful on the pockets of those who live here, but the return on that investment now means that we have amongst the best beaches in Europe, which will benefit not only the people who visit the region, but also those who live and work here."
Notes to editors
The mandatory or good standard determines whether a beaches 'passes' or 'fails'. It is based on the levels of faecal and total coliform bacteria that indicate the presence of pollution from human sewage and or animal sources.
Devon: 0 failures
Cornwall: 0 failures
French Riviera: 13 failures
The Algarve: 2 failures
The Costa Del Sol: 4 failures
The Balearic Islands: 4 failures
The Clean Sweep programme is one of the biggest environmental programmes in Europe, costing over £1.5 billion. As part of the programme, South West Water has built a wide variety of infrastructure including sewage treatment works, pumping stations and extra UV treatment facilities.
Published: 4 June 2007