Water shortages, already affecting billions of people around the world, are expected to worsen in the coming decades — linked to drought, pollution, rising sea levels and poor management — but an “invisible” solution may be hiding underground.

With water usage seen rising by 1% each year over the next three decades, a U.N. report predicted on Monday that so-called groundwater will grow in importance as climate change and human exploitation shrink surface supplies like lakes and reservoirs.

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