Abstract This study examines urban pollution within Derechos Humanos, a colonia popular in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. General water quality indicators (coliform bacteria, total dissolved solids, ecologically relevant cations and anions), heavy metals (copper, lead, nickel, zinc, iron and cadmium), and volatile organic compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, styrene, and dichlorobenzene and xylene isomers) were quantified within a wastewater canal running adjacent to the community. Water samples were collected at multiple sites along the banks of the canal and evidence of anthropogenic emissions existed at each sampling location. Sample site 2, approximately 10 m upstream of the colonia, contained both the widest range of hazardous pollutants and the greatest number exceeding US Environmental Protection Agency surface water standards. At each sampling location, high concentrations of total coliform (>10 4 colonies/100 mL sample), lead (ranging from 0.05 to 0.40 mg/L), nickel (levels from 0.21 to 1.45 mg/L), and benzene (up to 9.80 mg/L) were noted.