town of Alton Illinois seen from river Alton, Illinois sold its wastewater system to IllinoisAmerican and used the entire $53.8 million to chip away at its $134million in pension liabilities. (Photo: Shutterstock)

(Bloomberg) — As cities across the U.S. struggle under theweight of ballooning pension costs, some are putting their publicwater and sewer systems on the auction block to come up withcash.

Municipalities took in more than a half a billion dollars overthe past five years by selling their water and waste utilities toprivate companies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Suchsales are increasing in places such as Illinois, where the statealone owes $137 billion to its pension funds and dozens of citieshave saved far less than they need to cover all the benefitspromised to police, firefighters and other public employees.

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