EGG HARBOR CITY – A sinkhole opened up on Ninth Terrace and Beethoven Street early today shutting off water to dozens of homes and businesses in the city.

Water and Sewer Department Superintendent Jerry Gleason said a city police officer discovered the sinkhole when he inadvertently drove his cruiser into the gaping hole. Nobody was hurt.

Gleason’s department was alerted to the problem around 4 a.m. He was on the scene as dawn broke over the city.

“We have a crew here working on it. I have maybe 50 or 60 customers without water,” he said. “We have some settlement. I think the problem stemmed from a sewer main that settled around the manhole and caused the water main to break.”

The sinkhole was approximately 10 feet long, 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep. City workers were busy replacing a length of pipe exposed by the road collapse Thursday morning. A portable pump continuously pulled water from the hole while they worked.

Gleason said the affected residents might be advised to boil their water as a precaution once service is restored.

“I’m hoping not, but it’s a possibility,” he said. “We’re excavating right now.”