Giving traditional engineering services a modern technology twist is a point of difference for an Auckland-based consultancy.

AWT, a 70-person water technology firm, is using the power of the internet to deliver its services to a core client base of mainly local authority water operators.

The company provides advice and monitoring on anything relating to the built water cycle - from water catchment, pipes in the ground and water treatment through to wastewater treatment and disposal.

Managing director Steve Couper said the conventional approach would be to provide clients with static reports.

"Clients would continually come back with updates or repeats, which was good repeat business, but we felt that we could deliver something to them on the web that they could use on a daily basis.

"That would be a better service for them and they were even more likely to come back to us to do any further business or work in that area," said Couper

He said the interactive nature of web-based services provided up-to-the-minute monitoring data and also allowed clients to run their own modelling simulations.

After two years of development AWT now connects with more than 20 clients in New Zealand and Australia through its web portal.

"We're using traditional engineering planning and design techniques, such as hydraulic modelling and process simulation modelling, but delivering those as software packages over the web so we don't have to send out big laborious reports. We're creating interactive tools," said Couper.

This innovative cloud computing service has taken AWT to the final few in a million-dollar business competition.

The company is one of 10 finalists in the University of Auckland Business School's Entrepreneurs' Challenge, which offers growing companies a funding boost of up to $1 million and mentoring support from top business brains.

The winner or winners will be announced next month.

AWT was formed about five years ago when its Australian parent, Sydney Water, retrenched and left the New Zealand market. A resulting management buyout saw the creation of the staff-owned consultancy that exists today.

In a reversal of the firm's business roots it plans to push its services and technology into the Australian market.

AWT already has small offices in Melbourne and Sydney, with four Australian clients connected to its web service.

Couper said there was an opportunity to provide services to small- and medium-sized municipal authorities who could not afford in-house expertise but still wanted access to the interactive data and run simulations themselves.

He admitted the Australian market had a lot more competition but AWT had a unique proposition with its mix of engineering and technology expertise.

Couper said New Zealand water authorities planned $11 billion of capital expenditure in the next 10 years and $1 billion of operational spending each year - and he estimated the Australian market at 10 times that size.