Anglian Water Taster

17:50 Wednesday 25th May 2011
Drivetime BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Cate Munro from the Hunts Post in for the weekly chat with the BBC’s Andy Burrows.

ANDY BURROWS: And what’s this about a trip to Anglian Water’s labs in Huntingdon?
CATE MUNRO: Right. Well that was my colleague Gail, and she went over there to basically have a look at the processes involved in basically how our water gets to our taps. There’s a great deal that goes on, including water tasting. And there’s a chemist over there called Roy Hampson, who is known as the Nose of Anglian Water. (THEY LAUGH) That’s a title.
ANDY BURROWS: Has he got a big nose?
CATE MUNRO: I can’t comment on that.
ANDY BURROWS: He’s across two pages with it? I’m sure it’s a perfectly normal looking nose. I’m sure it is.
ANDY BURROWS: If Roy’s listening it’s a perfectly ordinary looking bugle.
CATE MUNRO: Of course it is.
ANDY BURROWS: But it’s a special nose. Is it insured?
CATE MUNRO: Well I don’t know. But it’s got rare qualities, apparently. He’s got a very acute sense of taste and smell. And basically he can taste whether water comes out of the ground, or whether it comes from a reservoir. He’s teetotal though, so I don’t know whether that’s got anything to do with it.
ANDY BURROWS: Exactly. He’s not blasted his taste buds with terrible things like alcohol. So Roy’s your man, is he? It must be rather fantastic. You need Roy popping up in one of those survival programmes don’t you ..
CATE MUNRO: Absolutely.
ANDY BURROWS: .. with Bear Grylls or something like that. Stuck deep in the heart of maybe that wetland you were talking about earlier on, with only bugs to live on. And they’re not knowing whether to drink the water. And then up pops Roy.
CATE MUNRO: He could get you a good glass of water. (THEY LAUGH)_
ANDY BURROWS: There’s Roy, and he just takes a little sip and goes yes, that’s from a natural stream that is, about five miles away.
CATE MUNRO: I think they do do it in much the same way as wine tasting. I think they take a sip and swill it around.
ANDY BURROWS: I’d love that to be true. I really would. I can just about tell if water’s got bubbles in. My Mum always talks about water. ‘ Cos she moved from a .. I can’t tell whether water is hard or soft, or if indeed it is hard or soft these days, but my Mum moved up from London when she was a kid, to Birmingham, and she’s never liked the taste of tap water in the Midlands. Because she says it’s completely different from water in London, or Laahndon as she calls it, when she was growing up. So it’s daft.
CATE MUNRO: A North/South divide thing, do you think?
ANDY BURROWS: I think it’s probably, yes, water snobbery going on. So hey that’s great. A real mix of stories this week in the Hunts Post. Thank you very much.