Drowning isn't the only risk while swimming in Valley canals

Irrigation canals might look inviting when temperatures reach the triple digits, but those bodies of water are not the place a person should see relief from the sweltering heat.

"People think that it is fun--I did it when I was younger--but it's not worth it," Esmeralda Martinez said.

Martinez knows all too well the dangers someone faced when they decide to jump into one of the many irrigation canals throughout Hidalgo County.

Martinez's niece Elsa drowned last month in a Donna canal.

"Unfortunately her life was cut short," Martinez said. "We have to accept it."

On Sunday a 60-year-old Rio Grande City man went for a swim with his grandchildren in a Mission canal.

The children made it out-but the grandfather was found dead several hours later.

Drowning in a canal is not the only risk people take when they use these canals as a place to cool off.

"There are concerns about bacterial infections, concerns about pesticides, and insecticides in them," Director of the Hidalgo County Health Department Eddie Olivarez said. "If there is any debris in the canal and you get cut...that cut can get infected."

If a person swallows some of this water, Olivarez said it could be bad.

"It's not properly purified so you may be ingesting poison and raw sewer," Olivarez said. "You may be ingesting things that could cause medical complications for you."

Olivarez said they have learned a lot in the last few decades about swimming in irrigation canals.

He said while it might have been acceptable years ago---now it is considered dangerous.