The company recognized that sourcing water from traditional water wells, or the near-by Atoyac River, was not a sustainable option. In 2008 Fortuna identified a potential alternative water source, a grey water treatment plant in a poor state of repair, in the community of Ocotlan de Morelos, located 15 kilometers from the mine site. The plant had fallen into disrepair due to lack of investment and maintenance, causing serious environmental and public health problems in the community and surrounding areas.
The abandoned plant was inoperable and affected the daily lives of community members. The plant channeled raw sewage into the Atoyac River and polluted the local acquifer. In addition, farmers used the plant’s overflow to irrigate crops, contaminating local produce and causing stomach infections in community residents. The rainy season exacerbated the problem flooding local roads with sewage, interrupting transit and polluting neighboring towns. School attendance was affected by the floods and sports teams were unable to practice year-round at the nearby athletics field. The plant emitted unbearable odors and excessive noise and served as the source for flies, rodents and disease-causing bacteria.