The Water Standpipe is an example of the simple technology that represents the current technical high-water mark in The Habitat.
The standpipe is set in a concrete base in a part of The Town. It is powered by a simple rotary electrical pump controlled by a lever-switch on top of the faucet pipe. Ardent encounters a young woman going to collect water from the stand-pipe. This indicates the generally low overall level of technology in The Habitat, with no indoor water plumbing, something common in most developed world countries in the real world.
Further indicative of the low-tech nature of The Habitat is that, when the pump does not work, the young woman Ardent had met had no idea what to do to restore it to function. She explicitly stated that she would have to get 'The Witch' (Alice) to repair it. Given the general level of fear and distrust Alice receives from Townsfolk, the fact that the woman had to find her to fix the pump indicates that no-one else in the Town had the knowledge to do so.
It is logical to assume from this that the stand-pipe was installed by Alice herself.
When Ardent touches the pump in Comic 77, it transforms whilst surrounded by the characteristic white glow of operating nanotech. In its new form, it has at least four feed pipes or power cables feeding into an enlarged pump rotor and generates enough pressure to blow off the faucet pipe and create a geyser-like water spout, drenching the area.
Alice theorises that Ardent is the carrier of 'upgrade' nanomachines and that he will have a similar effect on any mechanism that he touches. She believes that this is the work of the Praeses in pursuit of some malign agenda.