Rio Grande Valley native helps colonia in Penitas get access to clean water

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A Rio Grande Valley native is helping a colonia in Peñitas get access to clean drinking water.

The Heart Water Foundation was established in 2017 with the initiative of providing clean drinking water to water-challenged communities around the world. Co-founder Ylianna Dadashi grew up in the Valley and says she was first inspired to create the foundation when she was doing volunteer work as part of pageantry for Miss Texas USA.

“I’ve visited some of these homes, I’ve seen the way some of these people live, and I know the need for clean drinking water,” Dadashi said. “These people live off of bottled water and even their tap water, we’ve turned on a couple faucets, their tap water is contaminated, it comes out with dirt.”

For families in the area, buying bottles of water for everyday necessities can get expensive. But people like Ana Barajas are left with no choice.

“Because it has too many chemicals, the water tastes very weird,” Barajas said in Spanish.

But through a rainwater catchment system, the foundation will be able to filter water efficiently and provide entire communities like the one in Peñitas with clean water at no cost.

"We’re collecting water that’s just falling above an impervious coverage, diverting it into our storage tanks and then, when needed, we’re processing that water through very intensive filtration processes," said Heart Water Director of Sustainability Chris Kelland.

The community will be able to access the water similar to the way you get water from a well. The system is even equipped to provide members of the community with water during dry seasons.

This is the first place the foundation is installing this new water system and Dadashi says that helping her hometown community is something she always knew she wanted to do.

“When my husband and I first started the foundation one of the first things that we thought we had to do was come back to the Rio Grande Valley where I’m from and be able to provide our patented heart water technology,” Dadashi said. 


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