Water Security Agency

Qualified Persons

The Water Security Agency’s (WSA) Agricultural Water Management Strategy requires all drainage works to be approved. A drainage approval ensures that any impacts from the drainage works are reduced and that landowners can operate their drainage works for the term of the drainage approval. As well, if the landowner sells the land and the approval is registered on title, the drainage approval will run with the land for the term of the approval.

Preparation of a drainage application includes mapping all drainage works, securing legal land control for all lands involved, communicating with all parties involved including WSA, designing any mitigation works (flow controls, erosion control), and completing all necessary paper work, including the application.

Many landowners will not have the time to allocate to seeking an approval. Landowners will typically need to seek assistance for all but simple drainage applications.

Who is a Qualified Person (QP)?

There are currently two types of QPs: self-designated and accredited.

Self-designated QPs are professional engineers, professional agrologists, or applied science technologists.

Accredited QPs are individuals who have been accredited by WSA based on their education and experience.

When is a QP required?

Most drainage projects, except for those with less than one quarter section of drainage, will require a QP to prepare the application for a drainage approval. In practical terms, most projects except for those with a very small amount of drainage will require a QP.

How much does a QP cost?

Hiring a QP is an investment in the range of a few dollars per acre.

What exactly does a QP do?

QPs can carry out a wide range of activities on behalf of drainage applicants.

  • act as communicators liaising between applicants, WSA and other stakeholders.
  • assist with completing applications and forms, and assist landowners with obtaining documents necessary for securing land control.
  • function as project managers to assist with scheduling, budgeting and project planning.

And they can provide:

  • project development functions to help landowners with evaluating options and guiding a project through the development process.
  • basic technical skills, such as preparing plans, identifying land impacted by the drainage works, determining the initial point of adequate outlet, assessing the risk of the project, identifying mitigation requirements, and applying standard design for mitigation works when required.
  • intermediate technical skills, such as designing low risk mitigation works, sizing of infrastructure, surveying plans, and providing as-built plans for project verification.
  • engineering design, such as designing higher risk mitigation works, designing projects with a high dollar value, designing projects with a high level of technical complexity, and conducting hydrology studies.

Not all QPs can perform all of these tasks. QPs are responsible for ensuring that they only perform tasks within their expertise and experience.

Who hires and pays for the QP?

Typically, the drainage applicant or drainage proponent hires and pays the QP. The drainage applicant may be able to apply for grants through external funding, such as Ministry of Agriculture’s Farm Stewardship Program, to help subsidize the cost of the QP. Watershed stewardship groups will occasionally provide QP support for large drainage network projects.

What are the QP’s responsibilities?

A QP is a liaison between the drainage applicant and WSA. QPs are responsible for:

  • ensuring they are working within their area of expertise.
  • following their Codes of Practice and Codes of Ethics of their respective professional associations.
WSA offers a QP training course. Do all QPs have to go through a training course to be certified?
  • Self-designated QPs – not all self-designated QPs will be required to take the QP Training Course. If you are a self-designated QP who is either completing drainage applications and/or writing drainage reports, in addition to your area of practice competencies, you must ensure competence in WSA’s processes by completing the QP Training Couse offered by WSA.
  • Accredited QPs – all accredited QPs will be required to take the QP Training Course.

In the QP Training Course, WSA will provide QPs with the operating procedures and technical standards used for the preparation of drainage applications, and “how to” training for WSA’s online tools. WSA also expects QPs who have taken the QP Training Course will provide WSA’s technical standards to QPs they are working with, who have not taken the training.

What do I need to know when hiring a QP?

It is your responsibility to ensure you check a QP’s background, as you bear the ongoing responsibility of the operation and maintenance of the approved drainage works. When you’re looking to hire a reputable QP, a few questions, and a little investigation, will ensure that you get the right QP for your drainage project.


  • current resume – check the QP’s background, verify their credentials.
  • list of references – names and phone numbers of previous clients for a basic reputational/area of practice reference check.
  • proof of insurance – a QP should carry professional liability insurance to protect their clients from unforeseen events that can occur during the project.
  • ask for a quote – discuss the costs and payment options.
  • get a written contract – insist on a detailed contract before proceeding with any drainage related work.