Landscape water-use represents one of the largest components of water demand in Utah. 65% of the available drinking water is used to water landscapes. Through the Qualified Water-Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) Program, local landscape professionals are making a positive impact towards reducing landscape water demand by becoming more water efficient in landscape design, maintenance, and operation.
QWEL provides 21 hours of educational foundation based on principals of proper plant selection for the local climate, irrigation system design and maintenance, and irrigation system programming and operation.
Both the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) WaterSense program and QWEL share the common goal of conserving water resources and promoting the importance of water efficiency. QWEL is the second approved US EPA WaterSense Irrigation Auditor certification programs in the nation and was developed in cooperation with 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.
In 2010, Utah State University Extension (USU), The Utah Nursery and Landscape Association (UNLA), The Utah Division of Water Resources (UDWR), Iron County Water Conservancy District (ICWCD) and Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District (JVWCD) partnered together to bring the QWEL program to Utah. The QWEL Program was adapted to Utah’s climate and concerns in 2010 by Utah State University and training for the program is provided by USU. UNLA oversees the testing and certification of participants and ensures that continuing education credits are earned as required for QWEL certified technicians to maintain their licences. Administration of the program in Southern Utah is provided by Iron County Water Conservancy District and USU Extension. Administration of the program in Northern Utah is provided by Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.
At the present time, 11 additional Western states are offering or may offer the QWEL program to assist landscape professionals improve the water efficiency of landscapes and to provide a pool of qualified individuals that the public can hire with confidence. QWEL certified individuals may include landscape technicians, landscape designers, landscape maintenance workers and landscape installation contractors.
In addition, the Utah QWEL program seeks to recognize the individuals who have obtained the highest level of certification and training available, IA certification, through the Irrigation Association. Individuals who hold this certificate have voluntarily recieved extensive training in water efficient landscaping and have the ability to operate at the highest standard of quality. IA certification is ONLY open to landscape installation contractors.