DWP installs temporary sidewalk drinking fountains in skid row

The Department of Water and Power has installed drinking fountains at seven outdoor locations around L.A. County to help the homeless through the hot weather. They'll be removed in about a week.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Residents of skid row have two new places to get a drink of water, at least for now.

The L.A. Department of Water and Power has installed temporary drinking fountains in anticipation of summer heat waves. The agency said the fountains would remain — at 6th and Gladys streets, in front of 6th & Gladys Street Park, and at 5th and San Julian streets, in front of San Julian Park —  only for about a week or so.

In total, seven temporary fountains were installed around L.A. County, all in areas with large homeless populations. The fountains are attached to fire hydrants, and the water is filtered before coming out of the fountain.

Many homeless residents of skid row and other places utilize drinking fountains in public parks but have to find other sources of water when the parks are closed. Since these temporary fountains are on the sidewalk, they'll be accessible around the clock.

The DWP said it already owned the fountains and had workers install them during business hours, so they came at no cost to taxpayers.

Homelessness has reached historic levels in California: Roughly 115,700 people across the state don't have a place to live. L.A. County has about 47,000 homeless residents, and roughly 26,000 of them live in the city of Los Angeles.

Skid row activist General Jeff Page photographed the fountains being installed and wrote about them on Instagram. He lauded the city for putting in the fountains but lamented that they were temporary.

"We need these YEAR-ROUND because there is a tremendous amount of people who are severely dehydrated and undernourished in Skid Row," he wrote.

On Friday, the state Assembly asked Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a statewide emergency to help California’s homeless population. In June, the L.A. City Council requested a $1.5-billion bond to combat the problem.

The state already has seen one record-shattering heat wave this year, as well as some milder ones earlier.