Offer QWEL in Your Area

Steps for Adopting the Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper Program as a WaterSense Labeled Professional Certification Program

The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership’s (Partnership) Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) Program is recognized as a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense labeled Professional Certification Program. QWEL provides approximately 20 hours of educational materials designed to equip those who complete the program with a better understanding of landscape water management for the landscape industry. If your organization chooses to adopt the QWEL program and is approved to offer it in your region, you will be eligible to promote your QWEL program as a WaterSense labeled Professional Certification Program—a mark of distinction. Likewise, irrigation professionals certified through your approved program will be listed as Certified Professionals on the WaterSense website. The following summarizes the steps and ongoing requirements you must complete in order to offer the QWEL program in your area.

STEP 1 – Submit an Application to the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership

Complete and submit the QWEL Application for Adopting Professional Certifying Organizations (writeable PDF) to the Partnership. The Partnership will provide the Adopting PCO with a signed and dated copy of the application form once approved.

STEP 2 – Submit an Application to EPA WaterSense

Complete and submit an Application for Certifying Organization Approval (writeable PDF) to EPA WaterSense.

  • As an Adopting PCO you only need to complete Sections 1 and 3 of this form.
  • Once the application is approved by EPA, EPA will notify the Adopting PCO, and both parties will sign a Professional Certifying Organization Partnership Agreement (writeable PDF).
  • Following EPA approval, EPA will send the Adopting PCO “welcome materials”, including promotional materials and graphic files.

STEP 3 – Ongoing Responsibilities

  • Teach the QWEL program in its entirety. You may not alter the educational content (aside from Course One) nor alter the QWEL exam (aside from questions labeled “Regional Focus”).
  • Issue certificates with unique ID numbers to program graduates using QWEL’s certificate template.
  • Maintain a database of graduates and track and approve each graduate’s continuing education units (two CEUs per year) as specified in the QWEL training manual.
  • Participate in QWEL Board quarterly conference calls.

Additional Terms and Conditions

  • All professional certifying organization partners, including those that adopt QWEL, must develop a process for tracking continuing education/renewals of professionals certified through their program. The primary contact with the organizations should be available for questions from WaterSense regarding the certification status of professionals certified through their program.
  • WaterSense will include in its welcome materials guidance on how to talk about your partnership with WaterSense and how to correctly use the WaterSense program marks. You must adhere to this guidance.
  • All QWEL adopting organizations must follow testing protocols outlined in the QWEL training manual. Your organization must administer and grade the exam in accordance with the procedures outlined in the QWEL Policies and Procedures, including using QWEL’s passing score, who is eligible to administer and score the exam, safekeeping of the exam content, etc.
  • As a Professional Certifying Organization, your organization will be authorized to use the WaterSense partner logo in conjunction with your organization’s name. Your organization will be authorized to use the WaterSense label in conjunction with your QWEL Professional Certification Program.
  • The Partnership is responsible for ensuring that each Adopting PCOs QWEL program continues to meet the requirements of the WaterSense specification for irrigation system auditor certification programs. If the Partnership is no longer comfortable with the integrity of the QWEL program offered by an adopting organization, the Partnership will notify WaterSense.
  • Organizations must agree to use updated materials as the QWEL Board makes them available.


For more information on QWEL, please complete the contact form. For more information on WaterSense, please contact the WaterSense Helpline at (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) or