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Top Morning Stories for Wednesday, December 21th

Photo by Ben Philpott/KUT News

Occupy Austin Protesters Sue the City of Austin

A federal lawsuit against the City of Austin involving Occupy Austin protesters goes to trial in Austin this morning. Two men who were arrested with dozens of occupiers on October 30th were issued criminal trespassing citations. These notices can keep people away from City Hall for up to a year. The City of Austin has created a process in which protesters can appeal their notices and return to City Hall. But Austin attorney and civil rights activist Jim Harrington says the rule and practice of the city to summarily ban protesters from the free speech plaza violates the First Amendment. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel will hear the case that's expected to last two days.

City Workers Find Leak In WTP4 Shaft

Workers on the Water Treatment Plant 4 project found a leak in one of the shafts being dug in the Four Point area of Northwest Austin. The shaft will be used to construct WTP4 tunnels that will transport water from the plant to a nearby site. The leak is believed to be relatively small but could be of concern for the sensitive Bull Creek Watershed. The Austin-American Statesman reported this story Wednesday morning.

As the project was being planned, critics said crews could inadvertently hit a pocket and allow water to flow into the tunnel. They argued that this could disrupt the flows of the springs that feed nearby Bull Creek in ways that could not be predicted.

WTP4 has been an ongoing controversy in Austin. The city council called for reports this year, showing how much money would be lost if construction on the plant were stopped. Environmentalists are trying to prevent construction from continuing through federal protection for the the Jollyville Plateau Salamander.

Bobby Jindal Joins Perry's Iowa Bus Tour

With two weeks left until the first vote of the 2012 presidential race, Texas Governor Rick Perry revved up his bus tour of Iowa Tuesday by bringing a long-time supporter along for the ride.  You can listen to KUT's Ben Philpott's report from Iowa on Mr. Perry's bus tour with Gov. Jindal here.