NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University officials are looking for ways to expand the work of a special lab involved in water-quality research that has analyzed nearly 7,000 water samples since opening a year ago.

One of the projects for the Laboratory for Environmental Analysis is to monitor water quality at Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake, two Bloomington reservoirs affected by agricultural runoff, the Pantagraph reported.

"This laboratory ... provides local and regional scientists access to affordable analytical facilities that was not available before," said Bill Perry, lab director and associate professor.

Perry said that researchers are seeking a grant to expand the types of analysis they can do to include testing for dissolved organic carbon and suspended organic carbon. He said the testing could be useful for studying algal blooms in the lakes to determine the cause.

If researchers can detect what triggers the blooms in the lakes, the testing could assist the city in knowing when to store extra water before the blooms or begin treatment sooner, according to Perry.

Both undergraduate and graduate students work in the lab. The facility also brings together several departments, including biological sciences, agriculture and geology, geography and the environment.

"I'm getting so much lab experience that I can transfer into any job," said Crystal Jones, a junior in biology.

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Greg Simpson says the lab "represents the collaborative spirit that's typical of ISU."

Perry said the college is also working with sociology professor Joan Brehm to develop a water center that would do more collaborative research on water issues.

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Information from: The Pantagraph, http://www.pantagraph.com