Researchers at the University of Michigan are trying to take a bite out of America’s $275 billion lead service line replacement problem by promoting a data strategy used in Flint.

Research released Aug. 9 could save Flint, Mich., roughly $10 million by helping the city prioritize which service lines to test or quickly replace, based on comprehensive public data crunched by university students and contractors.

“In a perfect world, every home would be inspected, physically, and for every home...