About

A drawing of a watershed.

Mission Statement

The Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper training presents an affordable, proactive, local approach to reducing landscape water demand. QWEL provides graduates with knowledge in water efficient and sustainable landscape practices, including water management and preservation of other valuable resources.

WaterSense Partner

QWEL is recognized as a WaterSense labeled Professional Certification Program for Irrigation System Audits. Upon successful completion graduates will be listed as a Certified Professional on the WaterSense website.

Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership

The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (Partnership) is the parent Professional Certifying Organization (PCO) for the QWEL professional certification in irrigation system audits.

Saving Water Partnership LogoThe Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (Partnership) represents 11 water utilities in Sonoma and Marin counties that have joined together to provide regional solutions for water-use efficiency. The utilities include the Cities of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Sonoma, Cotati; North Marin, Valley of the Moon and Marin Municipal Water Districts; Town of Windsor, California American Water - Larkfield District and Sonoma County Water Agency (Partners). Each of the Partners have water conservation programs that assist customers in reducing their water-use. The Partnership was formed to identify and recommend implementation of water-use efficiency projects, and maximize the cost-effectiveness of water-use efficiency programs in our region.

WaterSense Award LogoThe Partnership has received national recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense program with five awards in four years for continued efforts in promoting water use efficiency in our region and beyond. For three consecutive years (2014-16) the Partnership has been the recipient of the Professional Certifying Partner of the Year award for its work in educating landscape professionals through its WaterSense labeled QWEL professional certification program.

The QWEL program was developed by Sonoma County Water Agency in partnership with North Coast Chapter of California Landscape Contractors Association, local landscape maintenance contractors, local water retailers and academia in 2007 as a locally focused training program. Since 2007, the QWEL program has been adopted by over 20 Professional Certifying Organizations (PCO’s) throughout the US.


QWEL Professional Certification in Irrigation System Audits

The Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper professional certification provides landscape professionals with 20 hours of education on principles of proper plant selection for the local climate, irrigation system design and maintenance, irrigation system programming and operation and sustainable landscaping.  In order to obtain the QWEL certification, an individual must demonstrate their ability to perform an irrigation system audit as well as pass the QWEL exam.  The list of topics covered in the QWEL curriculum includes:

A Drawing of Dripline in a landscape.

  • Where Our Water Comes From
  • Sustainable Landscaping
  • Soils
  • Landscape Water
  • Irrigation Systems
  • Irrigation Maintenance & Trouble Shooting
  • Irrigation System Auditing
  • Irrigation Scheduling
  • Irrigation Controllers
  • Bringing It All Together

QWEL Graywater Specialty Certification

The QWEL Graywater Specialty Certification provides landscape professionals with 10 hours of education on the design and installation of graywater systems.  In order to obtain the QWEL Graywater Specialty Certification an individual must be an existing QWEL graduate, must demonstrate their ability to install graywater systems, and pass the QWEL Graywater Specialty exam.  The list of topics covered in the QWEL Graywater Specialty curriculum includes:

  • Home Water Conservation and Graywater Overview
  • Plants, Products and Graywater
  • Graywater Codes and Regulations
  • Sizing Irrigation Fields
  • Laundry to Landscape
  • Beyond Laundry to Landscape
  • Future of Graywater