South West Water completes beach water clean-up

Image caption, Paignton Sands is one of several beaches in Torbay

A £2bn project to improve beach water quality in the South West is coming to an end in Devon after 20 years.

Operation Clean Sweep has been deemed a success by South West Water, with 97% of beaches now passing water standards.

There was a huge rise in South West Water (SWW) bills to pay for the project, with no sign of a reduction as the project ends.

Money will continue to be spent to maintain the work done across south west England.

Work is also still being carried out to complete the programme in Cornwall.

However, despite the success, debate is continuing about the standard of water at Paignton Sands. in Torbay, Devon, where storm tanks have been installed.

Sewage overflow

The Marine Conservation Society said the area would not meet new standards, set to be enforced in 2015, and suggested bathers should choose "somewhere else".

SWW's Dr Stephen Bird admitted in heavy rain there may still be an issue with an overflow of sewage but said investment in the area would continue.

"There are a whole range of factors affecting Paignton Sands... we're spending £2m, part of that in Paignton, investigating the causes", he said.

The work will be done in conjunction with the Environment Agency and local authorities.

Four public events have been planned across the region to mark the end of Clean Sweep.

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