Humans have more than 99 problems and scientists have just pushed water higher up the list.
A new study conducted by scientists at the University of California shows that a third of the world's biggest groundwater sources are under stress -- which essentially means that our demand is exceeding nature's supply.
We tend to rely heavily on these underground sources for drinking water, especially during a drought and researchers were able to use data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites to analyse 37 of the earth's largest basins between 2003 and 2013.
Their findings are worrying, to say the least.
Eight of the 37 aquifers are overstressed, meaning it is highly unlikely for its water supply to be naturally replenished again.
Furthermore, the majority of these troubled basins are located in some of the world's driest areas, which rely heavily on underground water.
The most distressed system in the world is the Arabian Aquifer System, a water source for more than 60 million people.
In second place is the Indus Basin aquifer of northwestern India and Pakistan while the Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa, is third.
The findings were published in two papers published in the Water Resources Research journal
Lead author on both studies Alexandra Richey asks an important question highlighting the wider, and more worrying aspect of these findings:
“What happens when a highly stressed aquifer is located in a region with socioeconomic or political tensions that can’t supplement declining water supplies fast enough?
“We’re trying to raise red flags now to pinpoint where active management today could protect future lives and livelihoods.”
According to the researchers, underground water is something we rely on quite heavily during a drought and California is a prime example of why depletion of the earth's basins require urgent attention.
“We don’t actually know how much is stored in each of these aquifers. Estimates of remaining storage might vary from decades to millennia. In a water-scarce society, we can no longer tolerate this level of uncertainty, especially since groundwater is disappearing so rapidly.”