- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Water Management Board is set to consider a polygamist group’s application to access more water at its remote South Dakota compound.

The board is scheduled Thursday to take up the application, which has faced opposition from landowners who live around Pringle, S.D.

Attorneys for the group and a concerned landowner are sparring over whether evidence about the group’s faith and background is relevant to whether regulators should grant the request.

Seth Jeffs, brother of imprisoned sect leader Warren Jeffs, has asked to increase the amount of water available at the compound.

His attorney has also asked the state board to block discussion of its faith.

Attorney Michael Hickey, who represents the concerned landowner, says the group’s practices are relevant to see whether it’s in the public’s interest to grant the application.

Mr. Jeffs submitted the application on behalf of the United Order of South Dakota, the name under which the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) owns the compound, AP reported in January.

Mr. Jeffs declined to tell the Rapid City Journal the reasons for the application, but said the compound is “not growing right now.”

“Just need more water,” said Mr. Jeffs, who said he does not live at the compound and doesn’t know its population.

The water application seeks permission for a third well that would increase allowable water use from 94 gallons per minute to 300 gallons. The compound’s 30,000-gallon underground water tank would be replaced with a 250,000-gallon above-ground tank, and existing 4-inch water mains would be replaced with 6- and 8-inch mains, AP said in January.

Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for a 2011 conviction for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides.

Members of his FLDS sect, a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but the mainstream church and its 15 million members worldwide abandoned the practice more than century ago.

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