Although official statistics show the extent of the water shortage, contradictions in those figures are too confusing even for water resources authorities. The water level in the Miyun Reservoir, Beijing's largest reserve, is a good example. Xinhua last month said its level had dropped to 992 million tonnes, less than a quarter of capacity. The same week, the Beijing Star Daily said it held 60 million tonnes. To make matters worse, both reports were challenged by Beijing Water Authority spokesman Yu Yaping . Mr Yu said the reservoir was at its highest level of the past three years, despite record-low rainfall in Beijing and Hebei. He attributed the result to a just-completed scheme to divert water from nearby reservoirs in Beijing and Hebei. Official figures released by state media to quantify the capital's water shortage also showed discrepancies. Xinhua said in a report in January that Beijing would be short of 700 million tonnes of water in 2010, and 1.5 billion tonnes in 2030, when the country's population was expected to peak at 1.6 billion. But a 2001 State Council document on Beijing's water resources - quoted by the 21st Century Business Herald last year - said it was predicted that the capital would be short of 794 million tonnes of water by the end of last year, with the shortage reaching 1.6 billion tonnes by 2010. Sun Xuetao , from the Ministry of Water Resources, played down the conflicting figures. He said there was no need for Beijing residents to be concerned because the government had contingency plans to cope with far worse water shortages.