These widespread practices in the Far West demonstrate how very wild the times were
Watch out for water
Clean water is essential for the survival of any human being. But in the pioneer regions of the Wild West, this basic need was not always easy to satisfy and not necessarily healthy when found. Drinkable water was scarce, and it was often contaminated. It is distressing to know that this is how people in the Wild West lived and did not have the privilege we do today of having easy access to good, clean, and drinkable water. Indeed, the water they found was often contaminated by the leaking outhouse or stagnant water, which attracted flies and insects that deposited waste and excrement.
Even rainwater collected in barrels was vulnerable to contamination. Also, the lack of overall hygiene at the time made it very difficult to find drinkable water. If these contaminants are ingested, they can cause various illnesses, including giardia and dysentery, among others. People who drank this unhygienic water had illnesses like nausea, cholera, cramping, and diarrhoea. Because water-borne illnesses can be hazardous, it is best not to take the chance of consuming water from a stream without first treating it, but most people in the Wild West did not have a choice.