One tip that I've learned with the whole SimNation concept is that residents from one town, can and will work in a different town. What you could try doing is:
Create one town 100% dedicated to residential. The only thing you really need to build in this city zone is Residential, police, hospitals, schools, firehouses, parks, etc. Do NOT build any powerplants, water-works, garbage disposal etc.
Next, start a new city above, or next to the residential city and build nothing but Industrial, police, and firehouses. The edge of the city that's farthest from the residential city is where you want to build all your garbage disposal and Power Plants, you can build your water facilities anywhere you want really, so long as you have some water treatment plants around.
Then, start another city directly connected to Residential. This City will be dedicated to Commercial. All you build here is Commerical, Police, Firehouses, and pretty much anything that increases the land-value such as parks, zoos, lakes, all that crap.
Lastly, you will need to connect these 3 cities in EVERY WAY AVAILABLE, this means, highways, power, water-pipes, subway, rail etc. This is so that your Sims can travel to each zone to work and meet their retail needs, and so that each city also gets its own fill of water, power, and gets rid of its garbage. Each city will make some proposals so that the industrial city sells water and power to residential, which sells it to Commercial. Residential will buy garbage from Commercial, and Industrial will buy all garbage via Residential.
Each city will earn its own amount of money...Commercial and Residential will be able to pay for the power, water and garbage (+ other local expenses) through taxes, and Industrial will earn its money through the Neighbouring deals (+ a little bit of taxes), which'll pay for the massive costs of running water, garbage and power for 3 major cities.
You must only work on each city one little bit at a time, so start off with Residential, build a small amount of the basics, then go to the Commercial, build a little bit, then Industrial, build a little bit more, and so on in that fashion untill you have 3 bustling metropolese.
That's the best advice I can give you (without resorting to inputting cheats). I should submit this to FAQ..what'cha reckon?