ORANGE COUNTY ( — If climate change continues unabated, there is at least an 80 percent chance of a megadrought in the Southwest and the Great Plains, scientists said Thursday.

The grim announcement, however, didn’t surprise Dr. Hesham El-Askary, an associate professor at Chapman University.

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“Things are happening at a way faster pace than expected,” El-Askary told KCAL9’s Stacey Butler.

A megadrought is one that lasts for decades and scientists say it will be worse than anything seen in the last 1,000 years.

El-Askary says, the higher the temperature, the greater the health risks.

“Everybody should really pay attention to that and start to take some real actions toward being prepared,” he said.

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The Orange County Water District (OCWD) has come up with one solution. Each day, the OCWD recycles 70 million gallons of waste-water and turns it into drinking water.

“This plant is the largest indirect portable reuse project in the world,” Michael Markus or the OCWD said.

Cheaper than imported water or desalinated sea water, O.C. is now a model for agencies worldwide.

“There is a tremendous amount more than we could do and we’re seeing more and more agencies look to this as a source of of water supply,” Markus said.

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The OCWD is already expanding and plan on purifying an additional 30 million gallons of water a day this spring.