A federal judge has rejected Tampa Bay Water's bid for a new trial over the cracks in its reservoir, setting the stage for the wholesale utility to take its case to an appeals court. U.S. District Judge James Whittemore issued an 18-page ruling that upheld the jury's verdict that HDR Engineering was not liable for the cracks in the C.W. Bill Young Reservoir in Hillsborough County. In a memo to his board, general manager Gerald Seeber said the utility will now appeal the case and "we trust that the appellate justices will see that several significant legal errors were made at trial." Before the battle over the 15.5-billion-gallon reservoir went to trial, the utility rejected a settlement of $30 million, contending that amount was too low and would require ratepayers to bear too much of a burden for fixing the cracks.