The quality of tap water in the South East has never been so good, according to a new study.
Consumers judge water on its look, taste and smell, inspectors say
The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) said Mid Kent, Folkestone and Dover, as well as Southern Water, were all above the national water quality average.
Southern Water, which supplies 2.3 million people in towns including Brighton, Crawley, Hastings, Ramsgate, Sittingbourne and Chatham, carried out almost 375,000 tests on the water it supplied last year.
Of these, 99.89% of samples met the DWI standards.
Southern Water said it had invested £54m in improvements to water supply in 2002, among them a scheme to replace 400 miles of cast iron water main.
Strictest safety regimes
Dr Nigel Smetham, water quality manager for Southern Water, said: "Research shows that drinking eight glasses of water a day is essential for good health and assists in improving concentration, particularly for children."
Inspectors said South East Water and Sutton and East Surrey Water could still do more to improve quality.
In the South East Water region, covering 1.4 million people in Eastbourne, Tonbridge, Haywards Heath, Farnborough, Camberley and Tunbridge Wells, 99.78% of samples met the DWI's standards.
Jeni Colbourne, the new chief inspector for the DWI, said: "The quality of drinking water in England and Wales is the best it has ever been.
"We have one of the strictest drinking water safety regimes in the world and the tens of millions of people who drink tap water every day are reaping the benefits."
Inspectors said customers judged their drinking water on its look, taste and smell.
In 1992, the number of tests failing to meet standards was nearly 37,000, compared with only 3,741 in 2003.