Up to 20 per cent of all the groundwater wells in the world are at risk of going dry in the near future, warn environmental scientists.
Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, US examined records made of well construction for approximately 39 million wells around the world.
They found that between 6 and 20 per cent of all of the wells around the world currently sit at no more than 16 feet below the water table in which they exist.
This means that they are at risk of going dry in the coming decades, according to Scott Jasechko and Debra Perrone from the varsity. The findings were published in the journal Science.
They also found that new well construction has, in many instances, not taken into consideration the reduced levels of groundwater, and therefore have not been dug deeper than older wells.
This practice will lead to the new wells running dry just as quickly as the older wells, the researchers said.
A similar study led by James Famiglietti and Grant Ferguson from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, and published in the same journal, revealed that the reason for shrinking volumes of water in aquifers is that humans remove more water than nature can replenish.
In addition to the massive amounts of water withdrawn from underground sources, many places have also begun to experience extended droughts due to global warming. They suggest that unless something changes, access to fresh water may soon become one of the privileges of the rich.