What Does A QWEL Designer Do – Tips On Creating A Water Saving Landscape

What Does A QWEL Designer Do – Tips On Creating A Water Saving Landscape

QWEL is the acronym for Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper. Saving water is a primary goal of municipalities and homeowners in the arid West. Creating a water saving landscape can be a tricky thing – especially if the homeowner has a large lawn. A qualified water efficient landscape typically eliminates or greatly reduces turf grass.

If turf grass is kept on site, a landscape professional with QWEL certification can audit the turf grass irrigation system. He or she can recommend fixes and improvements to the irrigation system – such as brands of extremely efficient irrigation spray heads or adjustments to the system that eliminate water waste from run off or overspray.

QWEL Certification and Design

QWEL is a training program and certification process for landscape professionals. It certifies landscape designers and landscape installers in techniques and theory they can use to help homeowners create and maintain water-wise landscapes.

The QWEL certification process consists of a 20-hour training program with an exam. It began in California in 2007 and has spread to other states.

What Does a QWEL Designer Do?

A QWEL designer can perform an irrigation audit for the client. The audit can be conducted for general landscape planting beds and turf grass. The QWEL designer can offer water-saving alternatives and options to the client to save water and money.

He or she can evaluate the landscape and determine water availability and use requirements. He or she can help a client choose the most effective irrigation equipment, as well as methods and materials for the site.

QWEL designers also create cost-effective irrigation design drawings that are appropriate to the needs of the plants. These drawings may also include construction drawings, equipment specifications and irrigation schedules.

A QWEL designer can verify that the irrigation system installation is correct and can also train the homeowner on system use, scheduling and maintenance.

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QWEL (English) - Sacramento, CA

The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is excited to offer the QWEL program.This training is offered for $50 per attendee .

Registration is a two step process:

The training includes an irrigation audit and exam, which are required to gain the QWEL professional certification.

By registering for this training you agree to attend the six classroom sessions listed below:

Classes will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from
12:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

  • October 7, 2020
  • October 12, 2020
  • October 14, 2020
  • October 19, 2020 - includes audit
  • October 21, 2020
  • October 26, 2020
  • October 28, 2020 - includes exam

The QWEL curriculum includes the following sections:

  1. Where Our Water Comes From
  2. Sustainable Landscaping
  3. Soils
  4. Landscape Water
  5. Irrigation Systems
  6. Irrigation Maintenance & Troubleshooting
  7. Irrigation Auditing
  8. Irrigation Scheduling
  9. Irrigation Controllers
  10. Bringing It All Together

The training has been approved for 19.5 APLD CEUs.

Presenters: Lori D. Palmquist and Robert Littlepage

Lori Palmquist, CID, CIC, CLWM, CLIA, QWEL, WWLP
Principal, WaterWonk

Lori is an irrigation designer consultant, and educator who fell in love with irrigation about 18 years ago as a landscape contractor, and has been playing with water ever since. She is the founding partner of WaterWonk, a company whose mission is to empower all landscape professionals to practice impeccable water efficiency in their projects.

A self-professed water-efficiency evangelist, Lori teaches irrigation for QWEL, Bay Friendly, Master Gardeners, and Green Gardener trainings. She regularly speaks to college landscape architecture and horticulture classes, professional landscape associations, garden clubs, homeowners, and basically anybody who will listen. She brings almost 30 years of landscape industry experience to the table, and is a sought-after speaker and instructor.

Lori’s true love these days is programming web applications for designing and implementing water-efficient landscapes. Her website Puddle-Stompers.com will soon be available to offer online irrigation education and resources.

Robert Littlepage. RLA QWEL
Principal, Robert Littlepage Landscape Architecture

Rob is a landscape architect licensed in California and until recently in Louisiana (retired). He is a former instructor of irrigation and landscape design at Sierra College and founder of the California School of Garden Design which was registered as short-term vocational training with the State of California. Through QWEL Certification, he conducts irrigation audits throughout the Sacramento region.

Rob has collaborated with international landscape designer, David Stevens, in teaching design courses in the San Francisco Bay area, has taught classes in irrigation and landscaping through the Regional Water Authority and has spoken to garden clubs, Master Gardeners and homeowners on sustainable landscaping and native plants. His monthly radio program at 104.5 FM focuses on organic landscaping, gardening and irrigation practices. He is the author of two books – Fundamentals of Landscape Designand A Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Placer County.

With a background as a landscape contractor, coupled with his design studies in Oxford, England, Rob brings a strong, grounded approach filled with energy and humor to all his courses and presentations. Rob continues to develop classes for online study through UDEMY.com

Location: Online

Monday, March 8th, 2021 12:30 pm-4:00 pm - Location: Online
Wednesday, March 10th, 2021 12:30 pm-4:00 pm - Location: Online
Monday, March 15th, 2021 12:30 pm-4:00 pm - Location: Online
Wednesday, March 17th, 2021 12:30 pm-4:00 pm - Location: Online
Monday, March 22nd, 2021 12:30 pm-4:00 pm - Location: Online
Wednesday, March 24th, 2021 12:30 pm-4:00 pm - Location: Online

Registration Closes: 10/06/2020

Sponsored by: Regional Water Authority

Online Registration is not available.

Through the Qualified Water-Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) Program, local landscape professionals learn how to become water efficient in landscape design, maintenance, and operation, to make a positive impact in reducing landscape water demand.

QWEL provides an educational foundation based on principals of proper plant selection for the local climate, irrigation system design and maintenance, and irrigation system programming and operation. Graduates of the program are then certified by the Utah Nursery and Landscape Association and can list their certification on the QWEL website hosted by the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.

Now available online!

The QWEL program is now available online through USU Extensions Online Course Catalog. The online modules offer a starting point to the QWEL program by covering several lectures. However, participants wanting certification will need to attend additional lectures, and complete the irrigation audit and exam in person.

The QWEL Utah program is a partnership between the USU’s Center for Water Efficient Landscaping, the Utah Nursery and Landscape Association (UNLA), Iron County Water Conservancy District (ICWCD) and Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District (JVWCD). The QWEL program was originally developed by the California Landscape Contractors Association, Sonoma County Water Agency, City of Santa Rosa, Marin Municipal Water District and the colleges of Santa Rosa and Marin. Utah QWEL is fully recognized as an EPA WaterSense program.

For more information about QWEL training, please visit Qualified Water-Efficient Landscaper.

Published on: Mar 08, 2018

Time limit: 365 days

Full course description

The Qualified Water-Efficient Landscaper educational program consists of 12 lecture modules, a hands-on experience conducting a water audit, and a certification exam. The curriculum covers a wealth of water conservation topics including water sources, landscape irrigation, plant materials, soils, and more. The focus is on the whole landscape rather than just on landscape irrigation. The overall goal is installing and maintaining highly effective and enjoyable landscapes while using less water. The online modules offer a starting point to the QWEL program by covering several lectures. However, participants wanting certification will need to attend additional lectures, and complete the irrigation audit and exam in person.

Having trouble signing up for this course? View instructions on How to Enroll.

Irrigation System Audits

Irrigation professionals who earn a WaterSense labeled certification in audits can identify systems that are distributing water unequally or inefficiently and determine how to improve performance.

Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor (CGIA)
Offered by the Irrigation Association
Available nationwide

A certified golf irrigation auditor is involved in the quantification of turf irrigation water use tailored to the unique conditions found on golf courses. Auditors collect site data, make maintenance recommendations and minor repairs, and perform field measurements and observations on golf courses. Through this data gathering, a basic irrigation schedule can be developed for greens, tees, and fairways that will assist the superintendent in making irrigation decisions. The CGIA certification is available nationally.

Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA)
Offered by the Irrigation Association
Available nationwide

A certified landscape irrigation auditor is involved in the quantification of landscape irrigation water use. Auditors collect site data, make maintenance recommendations and minor repairs, and perform field measurements and observations. Through this data gathering, a basic irrigation schedule can be developed that will assist a site water manager or property owner manage his overall irrigation water usage. The CLIA certification is available nationally.

Certified Water Management Program
Offered by the California Landscape Contractors Association
Available in California

Certified Water Managers utilize water audits, budgets and advanced irrigation technology to reduce landscape water usage. Open to all green industry professionals, this program is designed as a practical, profitable solution with a simple goal: to train water managers to provide customers with good to excellent landscape appearance using the right amount of water based on actual plant requirements. The Certified Water Management Program is available in California.

Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL)
Offered by the Sonoma–Marin Saving Water Partnership
Available in California, Utah, New Mexico, Florida, Wyoming
Available for adoption nationwide

The Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) training presents an affordable, proactive, and localized 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. The QWEL program is available for adoption and has expanded throughout California and nationwide in a campaign to improve landscape water management around the country. The following adopting professional certifying organizations have been approved by Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership to offer QWEL as a WaterSense labeled certification:

  • Central Iron County Water Conservancy District (Cedar City, Utah)
  • Chino Basin Water Conservation District (Montclair, California)
  • City of Gillette, Wyoming
  • City of Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • College of Western Idaho (Nampa, Idaho)
  • FL–Wet Inc. (Winter Springs, Florida)
  • Mammoth Community Water District (Mammoth Lakes, California)
  • Mojave Water Agency (Apple Valley, California)
  • New Mexico Water Conservation Alliance (Gallup, New Mexico)
  • San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District (Redlands, California)
  • San Diego County Water Authority (San Diego, California)
  • San Joaquin Delta College (Stockton, California)
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District (San Jose, California)
  • Shasta College (Redding, California)
  • Utah State University Extension, Iron County (Cedar City, Utah)
  • WaterNow Alliance (San Francisco, California)
  • Zone 7 Water Agency (Livermore, California)

Texas Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor Program (TxCLIA)
Offered by Texas A&M AgrilLife Extension Service, Texas A&M School of Irrigation
Available in Texas

Irrigation professionals and water conservation staff learn how to improve the efficiency of landscape irrigation through auditing of irrigation systems and developing irrigation schedules that conserve water while promoting quality landscapes. The course covers the eight steps of auditing including site selection for prioritizing sites based on potential water savings, inspecting irrigation system hardware, conducting field work to measure system performance, calculating irrigation schedules, and follow-up for adjusting schedules and producing audit reports. The Texas Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor Program is available in Texas.

Watershed Wise Landscape Professional (WWLP)
Offered by G3LA, LLC
Available nationwide

The Watershed Wise Landscape Professional training presents a holistic watershed approach to outdoor water use efficiency, emphasizing plant, soil, water relationships, and rainwater as a resource. Certified professionals assess the proper functioning of irrigation systems, perform irrigation water audits, recommend watering schedules, and conduct whole-site evaluations. The purpose is to certify WWLPs who demonstrate the ability to apply outdoor water efficiency concepts as a fundamental component of their practices. G3LA’s certification also requires a solid understanding of the principles of watershed management in the landscape. The WWLP program is available throughout the United States.

QWEL (Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper) is professional certification program that provides landscapers with the education, tools, and irrigation audit experience to design and maintain highly water efficient and sustainable landscapes.

The QWEL curriculum was designed by the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership comprised of experts in the field of efficient landscape watering practices. Each class, taught by local water efficiency and landscaping experts, provides landscape professionals with hands-on demonstrations and 20 hours of education on local water supply, sustainable landscaping, soils, water budgeting and water management, irrigation system componentss and maintenance, irrigation system audits, and scheduling and controller programming and operation. Links to the QWEL Reference Manual, irrigation audit form, and other relevant information can be found below. Graduates of the QWEL course may be listed for hire on the QWEL website and also the EPA WaterSense website.

South Metro Water Supply Authority and the City of Aspen are Professional Certified Organizations (PCOs) now facilitating the QWEL program in Colorado. The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District near Vail, CO is the latest Colorado provider to become a PCO for the QWEL program in Colorado. In 2019, South Metro Water updated the core CA curriculum to reflect water supply, constraints, and conditions specific to the South Denver Metro region. South Metro Water has since certified 100 professionals in the region, and we are actively developing Spanish materials incorporating local content for Spanish-preferred irrigation and water efficiency professionals beginning in 2021. At this time, South Metro Water is waiting to host trainings while the situation with COVID-19 develops. Details on 2021 class offerings will be posted here as they are scheduled and confirmed.

Ask for QWEL Certification

How can you trust that the person you want to hire will be wise about your water and not just about your plants? One of the best ways is to look for a local QWEL Certified Professional. Visit the QWEL website to find QWEL Pros in our area.

If you already have a reliable gardener or landscaper, but you're concerned about high irrigation water use, talk to them about it. Tell them that you want them to take part in the local QWEL education program. If it's a larger company with many employees, talk to the owner and ask that front line employees get the training you want them to have. Upcoming classes are available in both Spanish and English. Here's a straightforward training request slip that you can give them with their next payment.

Watch the video: El Monte Landscapers