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Depletion of groundwater will be more disruptive to vegetation, streams and rivers in the eastern U.S. than in the arid Southwest, where deep groundwater already is largely disconnected from surface waters, illustrated here by the Colorado River meanderin (Photo: Daniel Stolte) Depletion of groundwater will be more disruptive to vegetation, streams and rivers in the eastern U.S. than in the arid Southwest, where deep groundwater already is largely disconnected from surface waters, illustrated here by the Colorado River meandering through red sandstone in northern Arizona.