If there are any problems with public water supplies, they will be one-offs and only happen in small towns which receive more visitors in the summer.

Should such problems arise, authorities will hire tankers to supply water to the affected areas.

Although this year’s drought is less severe than that of two years ago, the minister said that the government is completely aware that, because of global warming, “the trend is getting worse”.

“We are in the Mediterranean basin, where the amount of rainfall is less than the amount of water we consume.

“The only long-term solution is really to save water and use it rationally,” he said.

The minister was speaking to journalists after inaugurating two new treatment plants, one for wastewater and the other for public supply, an investment he considered very important to make the entire water system in Beja reliable.

According to the most recent climate bulletin from the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and atmosphere, released on 4 July, 33.9 percent of mainland Portugal was in extreme or severe drought, 22.7 percent in moderate drought and 40.9 percent in slight drought. TPN/Lusa