Those are the old style rain diverters. They are supposed to direct the water away from the foundation in a spray so it does not create erosion in a downpoor. I'm suspecting you do not get rain all that often, but when you do it comes in buckets.
Loose them and install gutters with a downspout to a rainbarrel if you could use the water.
Looks like someones sales pitch worked on the previous owners.